After his profound struggles in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals needed their ace Adam Wainwright to have a bounce back effort in Game 5 of the series. However, Wainwright let the Cardinals down and put them in a bad position, needing to win two games on the road against the Boston Red Sox in order to win the World Series.
Wainwright wasn’t as bad as he was in Game 1, as he managed to strike out 10 in seven innings, but he found himself locked in a pitcher’s duel with Boston ace Jon Lester and blinked first. Wainwright floundered when his team needed more out of him, and now he’ll need the younger pitchers on the St. Louis pitching staff to pick him up.
With Wainwright faltering, the Cardinals must now rely on rookie Michael Wacha, whose performance this postseason actually bears some resemblance to what Wainwright gave the Cardinals when he was young. However, the Cardinals would have preferred for Wainwright to avoid putting Wacha in a must-win situation in Game 6.
Wacha has been brilliant this postseason, but he was far from flawless in Game 2 against the Red Sox. Now the Boston hitters have experience facing him and will be better prepared to go up against him again in Game 6. By forcing Wacha into a must-win situation, the Cardinals are pushing the issue with how reliant they’ve been on him during the playoffs, and at some point he may not be able to come through for them.
As good as Wacha’s been, Wainwright is the leader of the St. Louis pitching staff. His inability to win either of the two games he’s pitched in this series is the reason why the Cardinals find themselves on the brink of elimination depending on a rookie to save them.