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Cardinals vs. Red Sox score: David Ortiz gives Boston lead as Cards' lefties sit

Michael Wacha stayed in to pitch to David Ortiz in the sixth inning, and it did not work.

Jared Wickerham

The St. Louis Cardinals were always going to need more than one run, but in the sixth inning of Game 2 Mike Matheny's decision to leave Michael Wacha in to pitch to David Ortiz made that a very abrupt reality. Wacha, who'd just walked his fourth batter, gave up a long home run, and the Boston Red Sox took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning.

This is a hard one to explain in terms of costs and benefits; Wacha wasn't going to go another inning either way, and the Cardinals' bullpen has plenty of bullets left. But that's precisely what explains Matheny's behavior here: It wasn't about keeping Wacha around or managing the bullpen. We can't infer strategy from the move, only a belief that a hot starter coming up on 100 pitches is a better bet than a left-handed specialist against the Red Sox' best hitter.

Which—and I realize we have the benefit of hindsight here—seems sadly mistaken. We can complain all we want about the way these one-batter relievers extend games and slow down an already-long season, but the postseason is exactly what they were invented for. Where else does Randy Choate fit, if not right there?