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Blood and Guts
TOM VERDUCCI
November 01, 2004
In their quest to KO the Cardinals--and the Curse--Curt Schilling and the Red Sox got off on the right foot
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November 01, 2004

Blood And Guts

In their quest to KO the Cardinals--and the Curse--Curt Schilling and the Red Sox got off on the right foot

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St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria botched a play of his own, a grounder to his backhand, in the bottom of that inning. After 317 outs this postseason, it was the first time the Cardinals had allowed a runner to reach base on an error. The next batter, Mark Bellhorn, ripped the game-winning homer off the screen attached to the rightfield foul pole. It was his third straight postseason game with a homer, the first such streak by a second baseman.

The 11--9 opener marked only the fifth time in 585 World Series games that a team scored nine runs or more and lost. All four previous teams lost the Series. It was also the eighth Series game ever with at least 20 runs. (Only two of those came in the first 507 games, and six in the last 78, since 1989.)

Schilling went to bed at 2:30 a.m. but was awakened just 4 1/2 hours later with pain throughout his lower right leg. He could not walk without a pronounced limp. "Honey," he told his wife, Shonda, "I can't pitch like this today. They'll have to use someone else."

He alerted the team's trainers that he was ailing before he jumped into his black Navigator at about 1 p.m. and drove to the ballpark. "I left thinking I wasn't going to be able to pitch," he said. "As I was driving to the ballpark I passed all these signs: we're behind you curt. good luck curt. A firehouse had one of them. I didn't want to let them down."

After Schilling hobbled into the clubhouse at Fenway, Wallace told Lowe, scheduled to be the Game 4 starter, "You're on standby. Hang loose."

Catcher Jason Varitek did not know until after the game that Schilling was nearly unable to start. "Really?" he said. "All I can say is, Wow."

Morgan examined Schilling and quickly found the problem: One of the sutures had hit a nerve. When the doctor removed it, Schilling felt almost immediate relief.

"When I went out to warm up," he said, "I guarantee you my wife was the most surprised person in the ballpark."

The game was played under eerie conditions, with a windblown mist enveloping the ancient ballpark. It was baseball noir, and the Cardinals were the worse for it. Their pitchers, starting with Matt Morris on three days' rest, walked six batters and hit two others--among the 16 Sox to reach base in the two games without need of a hit--and allowed all six runs on two-out hits.

Schilling began the game popping his fastball as hard as 94 mph, but in the second inning he strained his right hip. Unable to get a full extension or follow-through on his pitches, he resorted to a stream of cutters, splitters and curves interrupted only occasionally by weak fastballs. St. Louis scored off Schilling only after third baseman Bill Mueller made the second of his record-tying three errors, in the fourth inning.

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