W2W4: World Series Game 2

When and where: Fenway Park, Thursday at 8:07 p.m. ET

Starting pitchers: Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA) vs. John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA)

WachaScouting report on Wacha: So much for unfamiliarity. Despite only 67 career plate appearances against Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright spread among four of Boston’s starting nine, the Red Sox pummeled Wainwright to the tune of five runs (three earned) on six hits in five innings.

Now, rookie Michael Wacha will have the pleasure of facing Boston’s offense in Game 2 with the threat of being down two games to none just one loss away.

“This lineup Boston has, it’s a good lineup. A lot of power, a lot of speed,” Wacha said. “You have to make effective pitches and attack them, don’t give them free base runners and just attack the zone and make effective pitches against them.”

Coming off two shutout outings that earned him NLCS MVP honors against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wacha will be making just his 13th major league start Thursday night. The 22-year-old has pitched well in his limited major league experience, going 4-1 in the regular season before winning his first three postseason starts.

“Michael’s stuff is above-average, mostly because it’s a little different,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny explained. “He comes from such a high slot that he’s getting a deeper angle on his pitches.

“He’s a guy that can throw high 90s, which puts him in a different group all by himself.”

Wacha has allowed just one run in 21 postseason innings pitched, striking out 22 and allowing only eight hits. No member of the Red Sox World Series roster has faced him.

LackeyScouting report on Lackey: Following a dazzling Game 3 start against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS in which he threw 6 2/3 shutout innings to beat Justin Verlander, Lackey is returning to the Game 2 spot he filled for the Red Sox in the ALDS. Clay Buchholz, who started Game 2 in the ALCS, has been battling some shoulder fatigue and has been pushed back to Game 4 of the World Series.

This time around, Lackey will be pitching on eight days' rest instead of 10 days.

“I think I’m better at it since I’ve done it a few times,” Lackey said. “I didn’t throw probably quite as much as I needed to [in the ALDS].

“This time I’ve thrown off the mound a few times, just trying to keep the feel.”

Lackey showed rust in his first start of the postseason against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched on seven hits and three walks. After righting the ship against Detroit, Lackey will face a talented Cardinals lineup that led the National League in runs scored and on-base percentage.

“They’re good, they’re in the World Series,” Lackey said. “There’s no bad teams left. They’ve got a really good offense, it’s really deep. Really similar to an American League lineup.”

The Cardinals are the only team that Lackey hasn’t faced in his major league career.

Three Cardinals players to watch

KozmaPete Kozma, SS: Kozma wore the collar in Wednesday’s Game 1 loss, not only going 0-for-3, but making two critical errors at shortstop in the first two innings that helped Boston jump out to an early five-run lead. The normally sure-handed Kozma (nine errors in 139 games at shortstop this season) will have a tough time making up for his gaffes with his bat as he has just five hits in 28 postseason at-bats.

Matt Holliday, LF: With fellow outfielder Carlos Beltran suffering a rib injury in Game 1, Holliday will be looked upon to step up in the middle of the Cardinals' order. Holliday’s home run in the ninth inning of Game 1 was too little, too late but showed that the outfielder might be ready to put his early NLCS struggles behind him. Holliday has faced Lackey eight times, going hitless and striking out once.

David Freese, 3B: The Cardinals' “Mr. October” when they won it all in 2011, Freese hit .397 in the postseason that year with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 18 games. Through 12 games this postseason, Freese is hitting only .195 with one home run and four RBIs.

Three Red Sox players to watch

NapoliMike Napoli, 1B: Napoli put together a strong World Series against the Cardinals with the Texas Rangers in 2011, hitting .350 and driving in 10 runs. Game 1 saw Napoli pick up where he left off as the slugger cleared the bases with a double to stake the Sox to a first-inning lead they would never look back from.

David Ortiz, DH: With a home run Wednesday night, Ortiz brought his postseason total to four, the most he’s had since he hit five in 2004. Overall, Ortiz has 16 postseason homers, tying him with Beltran for eighth on the all-time list.

Jonny Gomes, LF: Despite managing only five hits in 28 postseason at-bats so far, manager John Farrell continues to write Gomes’ name in the lineup as a testament to the “intangibles” he brings to the team. Gomes went 0-for-3 in Game 1 but made a great diving catch to rob Matt Adams of a hit in the fifth inning.

Three key considerations

• Following Wednesday’s loss, Matheny said Beltran (rib contusion) is day-to-day moving forward. Beltran was replaced defensively by Jon Jay in the bottom of the third.

• After being behind the plate for Lackey’s strong start against Detroit, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the expected choice at catcher for Farrell in Game 2 as the manager has carefully mixed and matched Saltalamacchia and backup David Ross throughout the postseason. Farrell also said Wednesday that outfielder Daniel Nava is expected to play more frequently in St. Louis, where there is more ground to cover in left field.

• Boston is currently riding a nine-game World Series win streak, tied for fourth longest in history. The New York Yankees hold the top spot on the list at 14 (1996 to 2000).

In the past 24 World Series, the team that has won Game 1 has won the series 20 times.