In Game 4 of the 2013 National League Division Series -- with his Cardinals down, two games to one -- Michael Wacha made his postseason debut and came up with a gem, going 7 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and one run.
In Game 6 of the 2013 NL Championship Series -- with his team having lost Game 5 and facing Clayton Kershaw -- Wacha delivered another masterpiece, going seven innings and allowing just two hits and no runs.
With his latest effort on Thursday night at Fenway Park, Wacha has made one start in a literal must-win postseason game and two starts in what were potential turning-point contests. In those three tests, he went 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA.
Wacha delivers once again
Behind Wacha's six innings of two-run ball, the Cardinals defeated the Red Sox, 4-2, in Game 2. St. Louis' victory ended Boston's World Series winning streak at nine games and evened the series at one game apiece.
Wacha improved to 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his four starts this postseason. He is the seventh pitcher in history to open with starts and wins in each of his first four career playoff appearances, joining Christy Mathewson, Jack Coombs, Lefty Gomez, Monte Pearson, Lew Burdette and Mike Moore.
Wacha is the 15th pitcher to have at least four wins as a starter in one postseason, joining Burt Hooton (1981), Dave Stewart ('89), Jack Morris ('91), Orel Hershiser ('95), John Smoltz ('96), David Wells ('98), Randy Johnson (2001), Curt Schilling ('01), Josh Beckett ('07), Cole Hamels ('08), Cliff Lee ('09), Andy Pettitte ('09), Tim Lincecum ('10) and Chris Carpenter ('11).
At 22 years and 115 days old, Wacha was the third-youngest Cards pitcher to start and win a World Series game. In 1934, Paul Dean was 22 years and 52 days old when he went the distance in a Game 3 win over the Tigers. Three days later, Dean threw another complete game and defeated the Tigers in Game 6.
Michael Wacha on Thursday became the seventh pitcher to win each of his first four postseason appearances.
Wacha is the 17th-youngest pitcher to start and win a World Series game. He is the fifth youngest to do it in a Game 2. Some details for this smaller club:
• Jim Palmer (20 years, 356 days) in 1966: With his Orioles up, 1-0, in the series, Palmer threw a four-hit shutout and Baltimore defeated Los Angeles and Sandy Koufax, 6-0.
• Chief Bender (21 years, 158 days) in 1905: With his Athletics down, 1-0, in the series, Bender threw a four-hit shutout and Philadelphia defeated the Giants, 3-0.
• Babe Ruth (21 years, 246 days) in 1916: With his Red Sox up, 1-0, in the series, Ruth went the full 14 innings and beat Brooklyn, 2-1.
• Waite Hoyt (22 years, 27 days) in 1921: With his Yankees up, 1-0, in the series, Hoyt threw a two-hit shutout and the Bronx Bombers defeated the Giants, 3-0.
Papi moves up postseason charts
Boston's David Ortiz went 2-for-3, hitting a two-run home run. On the career postseason leaderboards, Ortiz is:
• Tied for ninth place with Rickey Henderson in runs scored, with 47
• Tied for sixth place with Chipper Jones in total bases, with 154
• Tied for seventh place with Jim Thome in home runs, with 17
• Fifth in RBIs, with 59. He is two behind Derek Jeter for the fourth most
• In sole possession of fourth place for extra-base hits, with 38. Manny Ramirez occupies the third slot, with 48.
Ortiz was the first Red Sox player to homer in the first two games of a World Series.
Beltran contributes in return Carlos Beltran, playing in his second World Series game, went 2-for-4 and drove in a run in the seventh inning.
Beltran, whose return to the lineup was uncertain after he suffered a rib injury in Game 1, has 38 RBIs in 47 career postseason games. Those 38 through his first 47 games tie him with Lance Berkman and Ortiz for the most.
Beltran owns a 1.162 OPS in 203 career postseason plate appearances. Only two other players with at least 100 plate appearances have a higher OPS: Ruth (1.211) and Lou Gehrig (1.208). Entering Game 2, Beltran's (batting) Win Probability Added for his postseason career, stretched out for a per-162 game mark, came to 9.7. That same figure for Ruth (as a batter) was at 5.2, and for Gehrig, was at 11.5.
A dozen K's for Redbirds hurlers
After Wacha fanned six in six innings, Carlos Martinez struck out three in two innings and Trevor Rosenthal fanned the side in the ninth.
The 12 K's in a World Series game are tied for the fifth most for the Cardinals. Bob Gibson went the distance and fanned 17 in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, and in Game 5 of the '85 Fall Classic (a 6-1 loss to the Royals), five St. Louis pitchers combined for 15 K's. In Game 2 of the '44 World Series, Max Lanier and Blix Donnelly combined for 13 K's, and in Game 5 in '64, Gibson struck out 13 in a 10-inning effort. In Game 5 in '44, Mort Cooper fanned 12 in a seven-hit shutout.
The 12 K's were tied for the most against the Red Sox in a World Series game. In Game 2 in 1986, the Mets -- who lost, 9-3 -- fanned 12 Boston batters. The previous high for team strikeouts in a World Series win against Boston was 10, accomplished in Game 1 in 1903 (Pittsburgh's Deacon Phillippe had all 10) and twice in '67 (Games 1 and 7, via Gibson).
Here and there
• With his 1-2-3 ninth inning, Rosenthal became the second pitcher in World Series history to have a save of at least one inning in which he struck out every batter he faced. The Giants' Sergio Romo also accomplished this feat in Game 4 of the 2012 World Series.
• St. Louis, which finished 29th in the Majors with 45 stolen bases, had a pair of steals in its Game 2 victory. It was the first time the Cardinals had two stolen bases in a World Series contest since Game 6 of the 1987 Fall Classic. When the Cards have had two steals in a World Series game, they have gone 11-6.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.