Ol' blood and guts, Schilling stomps on Cards
Posted: Monday October 25, 2004 12:05AM; Updated: Monday October 25, 2004 1:25AM
BOSTON (AP) -- Ol' blood and guts did it again for the Boston Red Sox.
Curt Schilling walked to the mound Sunday night with an ailing ankle on his right leg and the hopes of eight decades of Red Sox fans on his back.
Standing on the right side of the pitching rubber, trying to throw as normally as he could, he shook off the pain and stomped all over the Cardinals, pitching the Red Sox to a 6-2 victory that sent them to St. Louis with a 2-0 World Series lead.
"I just wish everybody on this planet could experience the day that I just experienced," Schilling said.
Where would the Red Sox be if his damaged ankle tendon hadn't been stitched down by team physician Dr. Bill Morgan? Probably where they usually are this time of year -- watching the New York Yankees on television.
Instead, the Red Sox are two wins from their first Series title since 1918.
"Hopefully, I won't have to pitch again," Schilling said.
When the Red Sox lost the first three games of the AL championship series to the Yankees, and Schilling was knocked out of the opener after three innings, his season seemed to be over.
Then the Red Sox medical staff came up with a medical procedure to give him another chance. He held the Yankees to one run and four hits in seven innings in Game 6 of the ALCS last Tuesday, then had the stitches put back in Saturday.
But when he woke up at 7 a.m. Sunday, he panicked.
"I wasn't going to pitch. I couldn't walk. I couldn't move," he said.
Then Schilling got in his car for the drive from suburban Boston to Fenway Park and saw how much fans were counting on him.
"There were signs every mile from my house to this ballpark, on fire stations, on telephone poles, wishing me luck," he said.
Only after arriving at the ballpark and having doctors look him over did Schilling learn what had gone wrong.
"Somehow we had put an extra stitch in this time because there was some issues we wanted to try and avoid from last time and we had caught a nerve in the leg," he said. "And we took that stitch out, and things started to change almost immediately from that point."
Blood soaking his sock again and his velocity inconsistent at times, Schilling set up a devastating splitter when he needed it against the Cardinals. He gave up just four hits and an unearned run in six innings, got the important outs he needed and held St. Louis to 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"You could see he was battling with his ankle," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We all know what the circumstances are. He was very, very good."
The ankle isn't his only problem. Schilling said he "tweaked" a hip flexor in the third inning, and he put a hot water bottle on it when he wasn't on the mound.
"I thought early on, like the first two or three innings, he wasn't quite as sharp," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "After that, whenever we even got a smell, he made quality pitches."
Schilling is two Boston victories from the largest bonus windfall in baseball history: If the Red Sox win the World Series, his 2005 salary increases from $12.5 million to $14.5 million, and a $13 million club option in 2007 becomes guaranteed.
Schilling improved his World Series record to 3-1 and his postseason mark to 8-2. If the Series comes back to Boston next weekend, it's unclear whether the procedure will work again, allowing him to start Game 6 or 7.
"We may not be able to do it a third time," Morgan said before the game.
Schilling's teammates look up to him. He came to Boston last November to help get the Red Sox the World Series title that has eluded them for so long.
"He's going through a tremendous amount of pain to get through this," catcher Jason Varitek said.
Three years ago when Arizona played the Yankees, Schilling's favorite words were "aura and mystique." After his victory Sunday night, he was asked what he thought when fans called him "courageous" and a "hero."
"It's better than bum and idiot," he said.