The immediate thought when Michael Wacha gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the sixth inning of his last start Thursday was that the toll of his first full professional season finally had caught up to him.
But the St. Louis Cardinals aren't concerned with the stamina of their prized rookie, given the way they've handled him this season and the workload he carried during his junior season at Texas A&M.
Wacha, 22, enters Wednesday's start in Game 6 of the World Series with a combined 1762/3 innings in the minors and with the Cardinals, who are trying to stave off elimination against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Wacha threw a career-high 114 pitches in his last start, and he's accustomed to handling heavy workloads as recently as 2012 with the Aggies before the Cardinals selected him in the first round.
During his junior season, Wacha threw 114 pitches or more in eight starts, including 121 pitches twice
Unless the Cardinals snap out of their offensive funk, they might need Wacha to be more effective than he was in Game 2, in which he held the Red Sox scoreless on two hits through the first 51/3 innings until Ortiz's home run.
The Red Sox have led the World Series, 3-2, on four previous occasions but have wrapped it up in Game 6 only once, in 1918, the last time they clinched the World Series at Fenway Park.
The Cardinals have trailed, 3-2, six times and forced a Game 7 five times, coming back to win all five of those World Series.
The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates were the last team to trail, 3-2, and win the last two games on the road, in Baltimore.