Reverse the Curse
Schilling puts Red Sox on verge of historic postseason comeback
Updated: Wednesday October 20, 2004 2:20AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- With blood seeping through his sock and bravado etched on his face, Curt Schilling pitched through the pain and put the Boston Red Sox within one win of the most shocking comeback in baseball postseason history.
He shut down the Yankees and, just as he wanted, 55,000-plus New Yorkers.
With the benefit of two reversed calls by umpires, the Red Sox just might Reverse the Curse this year. They beat the Yankees 4-2 Tuesday night to save their season for the third day in a row and force a winner-take-all Game 7 for the AL pennant and a trip to the World Series.
Pitching on a dislocated ankle tendon held down by sutures, Schilling smothered the Yankees by allowing just one run over seven innings, pulling the Red Sox into a 3-3 tie in a series that was three outs from a sweep on Sunday.
Wednesday's finale will mark the second straight year the AL championship series has gone the distance between baseball's perennial pinstriped power and a Boston team desperately trying to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.
"We just did something that has never been done yet," Schilling said. "It ain't over yet. It ain't over by any stretch against this team and this organization."
And he wanted nothing more than to beat this organization.
The day before the series began, Schilling brashly said: "I'm not sure I can think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up."
The Yankees were ahead 3-0 in the series before blowing a ninth-inning lead in Game 4 at Fenway Park and losing in the 12th Sunday night. They led Game 5 in the eighth Monday, then lost that one, too, another 5-hour marathon that stretched on for 14 innings.
Of the 25 previous major league teams that fell behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, none had forced a Game 7. But back in the Bronx, where they wasted a four-run lead in Game 7 last year, the Red Sox broke through with a four-run fourth against Jon Lieber.
The team trying to shake The Curse benefited from two big reversed calls.
Mark Bellhorn hit a ball over the left-field wall that was at first ruled a ground-rule double by left-field umpire Jim Joyce before it was correctly changed to a three-run homer that made it 4-0.
Then in the eighth, after Miguel Cairo's double and Derek Jeter's RBI single off Bronson Arroyo pulled the Yankees to 4-2, Alex Rodriguez hit a ball between the mound and first. Arroyo picked it up and ran toward first, where just before the base the striding A-Rod slapped the ball away.
Jeter came all the way around to score as the ball bounced down the right-field line. After Boston manager Terry Francona came out to argue, the umpires huddled, discussed the play, then called Rodriguez out for interference and sent Jeter back to first.
"You could see Alex take a swipe at the ball," Francona said.
Rodriguez raised both hands and put them on his helmet, screaming about the reversal.
"I know that line belongs to me and he was coming at me," Rodriguez said. "Once I reached out and tried to knock the ball, the call went against me. I should have just run over him."
"That was unprofessional. That's against the rules," Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar said. "If you want to play football, strap on some pads and go play for the Green Bay Packers."
"There were a lot of things that went on that didn't fall our way, but that's the way it goes," Torre said.
Crew chief Randy Marsh, who was the first-base umpire, said he was screened by first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and that plate umpire Joe West had the best view.
"I did not see Alex wave at him and knock the ball out," Marsh said.
After Boston's Orlando Cabrera was ruled safe at first base in the ninth, preventing the Yankees from completing a double play, public address announcer Bob Sheppard made his second announcement for fans to maintain order. The umpires talked with Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security in the commissioner's office, as Yankees reliever Tanyon Sturtze warmed up.
Helmeted police then came on the field and kneeled in foul territory along the stands on both the left- and right-field sides in the top of the ninth.
Schilling, who accepted a trade to the Red Sox last fall for the express purpose of beating the Yankees, took a three-hit shutout into the seventh before allowing Bernie Williams' solo homer on the 91st of his 99 pitches.
His ankle had forced him out of the opener after three innings.
"This training staff was just phenomenal -- the things they did for me," he said.
Keith Foulke, who threw 72 pitches during the previous two games, relieved to start the ninth. He walked Hideki Matsui leading off and Ruben Sierra with two outs before striking out Tony Clark on a 3-2 pitch to end it, sending the Red Sox running out of the dugout for their third straight night of celebration.
After chasing the Yankees all summer and falling short in the AL East race for the seventh straight season, the wild-card Red Sox caught up to their old rival, an unexpected turn of events given how close Boston was to packing up for the winter just 48 hours earlier.
Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, originally scheduled to start Game 7, said Derek Lowe will start instead. Torre said he hadn't decided on his starter -- Kevin Brown or Javier Vazquez are the most likely candidates.
"I guess it was supposed to happen," Torre said. "We just have to call on the reserve that allowed us to bounce back from a lot of challenges all year."
While the Yankees are trying for their seventh AL pennant in nine seasons under Torre and record 40th overall, the Red Sox are attempting to reach the World Series for the first time since 1986.
From the start on a cold night with an intermittent misty rain, nothing went right for the Yankees. Jorge Posada's deep drive to right was held up by the wind in the second, Williams just hooked a ball foul with two runners on in the fourth.
While the Red Sox looked loose, especially after the initial call of a double on Bellhorn's ball was reversed, the Yankees looked tight, overswinging for the second straight night and never testing Schilling's ankle with a bunt on the slick grass.
Boston's big fourth began with Millar's two-out double to the left-field wall. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on Jason Varitek's single. Cabrera singled to put two runners on.
Bellhorn, in a 4-for-32 postseason slump, poked a 1-2 pitch to the opposite-field, down the left-field line and to the top of the wall. Replays showed the ball hit a fan in the first row in the chest.
Lieber, who beat Pedro Martinez 3-1 in Game 2, allowed four runs and nine hits in 7 1-3 innings, retiring 11 in a row after Bellhorn's homer.
"When we were up 3-0, we didn't want to be in this position," Rodriguez said. "If we win tomorrow, it won't be embarrassing."
Notes: Williams' homer was his 22nd in postseason play. ... The only teams in North American major sports to overcome 3-0 deficits in best-of-seven series were both in the NHL: Toronto against Detroit in the 1942 Stanley Cup finals and the New York Islanders against Pittsburgh in the 1975 quarterfinals.