ST. LOUIS – For four straight starts, Michael Wacha has been all but untouchable and appeared totally oblivious to the stakes.
The St. Louis Cardinals need one more just like that from the pressure-proof rookie to get to the World Series for the second time in three years.
Wacha outpitched NL Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 and the Cardinals won 1-0 on an unearned run to take a 2-0 series lead. Theyre matched again in Game 6 tonight, the precocious right-hander and the lefty whod be at the top of anyones list to work a must-win.
This time, the Cardinals lead the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2.
I just expect Michael to go out and do what hes done, just like the rest of our guys, manager Mike Matheny said. Stick with what youve done all along the way, and dont ignore and dont deny the excitement.
The Dodgers brought the series back to St. Louis by muscling up on offense, with Adrian Gonzalez hitting two of their four homers in a 6-4 Game 5 victory Wednesday.
Runs figure to be hard to come by in Game 6, although pitchers wont have shadows as an ally. Game 2 had a late afternoon start with shadows creeping across Busch Stadium especially in the early innings, plus there was fatigue from the Cardinals 13-inning win to open the series.
I think youll see both clubs get better at-bats just from the standpoint of vision, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Kershaw is the major league ERA leader three years running and worked the Dodgers division clincher against Atlanta on three days rest.
I dont really think about the what-ifs, Kershaw said. I always assumed I was going to pitch Game 6.
Kershaw has a career 1-2 postseason record despite an impressive 2.88 postseason ERA.
All we have to do, Gonzalez said, is score for him.
Wacha is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in the postseason, giving up six hits in 14 innings with 17 strikeouts. Counting his last start of the regular season, when he was one out shy of a no-hitter, make it 3-0 with an 0.42 ERA.
Slim leads have been of no concern, with the Cardinals totaling five runs in those games.
Just this whole postseason ride has been amazing, Wacha said. Hopefully we can just keep it going.
He knows how tough the opposing pitcher is but says that cant be factor.
Kershaws a tough pitcher, obviously, and you saw that in his last start, Wacha said. But I try not to worry too much about who Im facing.
Just try to approach it like any other start and just worry about myself, really.