BOSTON — This wasn't the dominant, almost-unhittable Michael Wacha we've seen in the 2013 postseason.
He got the win Thursday night in Game 2 of the World Series, as his St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2, knotting their series at one. It was rookie pitcher's fourth win of the postseason, but he wouldn't have gotten it without help from a couple of his fellow rookie pitchers.
"I didn't have my best stuff tonight," Wacha said afterward. "Definitely a little bit more wild. Didn't have the command."
He pitched six innings, giving up three hits and two runs — both on a big home run by David Ortiz. Wacha's pitch count hit 114, a career-high.
[Photos: World Series Game 2 highlights]
So Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had to turn to his bullpen earlier than he has in any of the 22-year-old's postseason starts thus far. Matheny brought in 23-year-old rookie Carlos Martinez in the seventh inning, right after the Cardinals had gone ahead 4-2. Martinez set down the Red Sox 1-2-3, then worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth inning. He topped out at 98 mph.
Next Matheny called on another rookie, 23-year-old Trevor Rosenthal to close out the win. He struck out the side, with third strikes that registered 98, 98 and 99.
Three rookies, 68 years on the earth between them.
"Pretty neat isn't it?" Cardinals veteran Chris Carpenter said after the game.
Another veteran, reliever Randy Choate, was asked whether it was fair for the Cardinals to trot out a pair of rookies from the bullpen throwing that hard.
"I'm not hitting, I'm not really concerned about fair," Choate said. "I'm concerned about winning. That's why they've set it up to have those guys there. They've done a really good job of managing that. It's what's great. It's like, 'Is it fair to send three rookies out there?' But they've got out there and done their job. They just pitch so well. In a pressure situation, it's nice to see."
In their Game 1 loss, the Cardinals bullpen gave up three runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Matheny used five relievers, partially he said, to get a few of the young guys' feet wet, so when he needed them next, any World Series jitters would be gone.
"We were hopeful that today would be an opportunity for them to get in there and do it when it really counts," Matheny said. "And they did a great job. Carlos gave up the run yesterday. He wasn't happy with how he went about it. He was very animated about how badly he wanted to pitch again and get back out there. And he proved that it wasn't just a lot of talk."
These rookies, though, they're something to talk about.
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