Skip to content

World Series Game 6 Preview: John Lackey gets the biggest start of his life

Oct 30, 2013, 12:38 PM EDT

World Series Cardinals Red Sox Baseball

BOSTON — It’s certainly the biggest start of Michael Wacha‘s life too, but Wacha is 22 years-old and kids, God love ’em, tend to think that they’re going to have the sun shining on them forever.

John Lackey is 35 and has pretty much seen it and done it all. He’s been that kid winning a World Series game, back in 2002 with the Angels.  He’s also been, far more recently, a whipping boy for Boston Red Sox fans. The recipient of a big contract many thought was too big. One of the public faces of the “chicken and beer” collapse of 2011. A Tommy John surgery casualty who missed the entire 2012 season.  Yet here he is starting what could be a World Series clincher. If he wins it, it will be the first time the Red Sox and their fans will get to celebrate a World Series win at home since 1918. One gets the sense that an older and wiser John Lackey is much more aware of his surroundings and the gravity of the moment than the young John Lackey was in 2002.

And it won’t be an easy task for Lackey. Yes, the Cardinals have looked anemic on offense of late, but their anemia is a bit more pronounced against lefties than righties, and Lackey throws with his right hand. The Cardinals line against lefties is .211/.268/.295 and against righties it’s a not-too-much-better .214/.289/.331, but St. Louis is 2-4 in the postseason when facing a left-handed starter, 7-3 otherwise.

If Lackey gets in trouble early it could make for a tough choice for manager John Farrell. He has lefty Felix Doubront at his disposal. Doubront can go multiple innings and has been fantastic this postseason, but he may be more essential to the Red Sox in a possible Game 7 given that Jake Peavy is slated to start that game and given that Peavy has been shaky at best. But as the old saying goes, you don’t save a guy for tomorrow because tomorrow it may rain, so expect Doubront to come in if Lackey isn’t up to the task.

As for St. Louis, Wacha is the best guy they could hope to have going. He was the NLCS MVP and is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA and a .122 opponents batting average in the postseason. He out-pitched Clayton Kershaw twice and saved the Cardinals bacon when they trailed the Pirates in the Division Series. You never want to be down 3-2 in a World Series and playing on the road, but if you have to be, Wacha is who you want taking the start.

I would expect form to hold and the pitching, generally speaking, to be strong in Game 6. Offense has been hard to come by for everyone, and as such, whoever wins Game 6 is going to probably do so because of a hitter rising to the occasion.

To that end, John Farrell indicated yesterday that he is going with his hero-centric lineup, starting David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino. Ross is the backup catcher, but he had a big RBI in Game 5 and, more importantly, is unlikely to commit the sort of mental error starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia had in throwing a ball away to third base in Game 3. Gomes is not normally the threat that Daniel Nava is, but he hit that big home run in Game 4. Victorino has been hurt, but it’s hard to forget that he hit the grand slam that put Boston in the World Series in the first place.

For the Cardinals, there are not so many options. Mike Matheny’s biggest threats — Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran — are hurt, but they’d play Game 6 even if they needed Rascal scooters to take them up to the plate. What they really need, however, is for Matt Carpenter to remember how to hit and to show that they can score runs on plays that don’t involve a silly Red Sox error or obstruction call. Indeed, given their lack of offense this series it’s a wonder that the thing is still going on.

But on it goes. Into a Game 6 which is the hottest ticket in baseball history and, in all likelihood, the rowdiest and loudest crowd we’ve seen in ages.

Play ball.

Latest Posts
  1. Jerry Dipoto loses power struggle with Mike Scioscia, steps down as Angels general manager

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT

    scioscia and dipoto angels AP

    For better or worse, owner Arte Moreno is standing with Scioscia.

  2. Must-click link: Baseball Peaked on July 1, 1990

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Yankees logo

    “The most ridiculous no-hitter in baseball history”

  3. Ervin Santana ready to join Twins after 80-game suspension

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    Ervin Santana AP

    Santana has been “rehabbing” in the minors.

  4. Bobby Bonilla’s isn’t the only deferred money deal in the game. And isn’t even the worst.

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Bruce Sutter

    Bruce Sutter retired when Ronald Reagan was still president. He’s still being paid by the Braves.

  5. What Yasiel Puig being a pain in the butt means. And what it doesn’t mean.

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Paul Sancya -- Associated Press AP

    A book is coming out which is telling us just how bad a teammate Yasiel Puig has been. Should we care?

  6. Report: Jerry Dipoto “definitely out” as Angels GM

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:07 AM EDT

    Jerry Dipoto Jerry Dipoto

    It seems that if you battle with Mike Scioscia, you’re going to lose.

  7. And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 1, 2015, 7:31 AM EDT

    Mike Montgomery Getty Images

    Shutouts are rare in baseball these days. M’s rookie Mike Montgomery has two in a row.

  8. Manny Banuelos expected to make MLB debut Thursday

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    banuelos getty Getty Images

    Banuelos has rebuilt some of his early-career hype this summer with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, Georgia, posting 2.29 ERA and 1.22 WHIP across 82 2/3 innings (15 starts).

  9. Video: Dee Gordon hit a three-run inside-the-parker

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT

    dee gordon getty Getty Images

    Watch as Dee Gordon belts a ball into the right-center field gap and turns on the jets …

  10. Padres recall Jedd Gyorko from AAA El Paso

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:41 PM EDT

    Jedd Gyorko AP

    Gyorko was optioned to the minors on June 10 after batting .210/.282/.311 over his first 131 plate appearances …

  11. Matt Cain to make 2015 debut on Thursday

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    Matt Cain AP

    Tim Lincecum will be placed on the disabled list with a forearm bruise to open a rotation spot.

  12. The Chicago Sun-Times wants Ozzie Guillen to manage the White Sox again

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    ozzie_guillen_090817

    Let us use this column to talk a bit about how rumors got started back in the day and how they get started now.

  13. Sonny Gray scratched due to illness

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Sonny Gray Sonny Gray

    Chris Bassitt will start in his place.

  14. Daniel Murphy returns from disabled list, Mets send Dilson Herrera back to minors

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

    Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda AP

    No one is quite sure when All-Star third baseman David Wright will be back.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. S. Matz (4056)
  2. B. Harper (3928)
  3. H. Ramirez (3837)
  4. J. Hamilton (3721)
  5. G. Stanton (3409)
  1. M. Moore (3064)
  2. Y. Puig (2970)
  3. J. Ellsbury (2673)
  4. F. Freeman (2643)
  5. M. Cain (2628)