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Ailing Schilling comes up huge10/19/2004 8:13 PM ET
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Curt Schilling represented the Boston Red Sox in a red sock Tuesday night.
As a result, his team is one win away from the World Series.
Schilling, desperate to pitch again in the American League Championship Series, was as questionable as a hard-throwing starting pitcher could be after he lost Game 1.
In that game, he suffered a three-inning, six-run pounding that was related to the dislocated tendon in his right ankle.
In other words, simply making it to the mound for Tuesday's Game 6 was Schilling's first victory.
With the help of the Boston team doctors, Schilling underwent a unique suturing process on Monday in which the skin around the dislocated tendon was cut and stitched tighter.
Schilling eschewed any thoughts of using a specially-designed shoe, claiming it made the situation worse. The doctors brainstormed and came up with the makeshift surgery, not knowing how their man would respond, and Schilling took the Yankee Stadium hill with his regular cleats.
Schilling strode to the mound in the middle of cold October drizzle, with wind howling and 55,000 fans sharing their special Bronx version of disapproval at particularly high decibels.
His sutured ankle bled slightly, tinting his sock red as he threw the first pitch to Derek Jeter. But he retired Jeter and went on to pitch one of the best games of his career.
Schilling went seven innings, with the only blemish being a Bernie Williams solo home run.
The Sox held on to win, 4-2, evened the series at 3-3, and forced a winner-take-all Game 7.
Schilling's courageous stand helped his team become the first in baseball history to even a seven-game series at three games apiece after losing the first three.
His teammates weren't impressed. They were amazed.
"We are extremely proud of what he did," outfielder Gabe Kapler said. "Everybody saw what he went through to get here. He just gave a gritty performance. I just gained that much more great admiration for him tonight. ... He's truly a warrior."
"We felt Curt was going to be Curt and he was," added first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. "To me, that was the greatest pitching performance, hands down."
For Schilling, it was more like hands together.
"Seven years ago I became a Christian, and tonight God did something amazing for me," Schilling said. " I tried to be as tough as I could and do it my way (in) Game 1, and I think we all saw how that turned out. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to do this alone.
"And I prayed as hard as I could. I didn't pray to get a win or to make great pitches. I just prayed for the strength to go out there tonight and compete, and He gave me that. I can't explain to you what a feeling it was to be out there and to feel what I felt."
In addition to thanking the higher powers in his life, Schilling was quick to give it up for the team's medical staff, too.
"Dr. Morgan, Jim Rowe, this training staff was just phenomenal, the things they did for me over the last four, five, six days," Schilling said. "I would not have gone out there. I would not have been able to go out there had he not come up with the plan that we ended up executing. My goal was to pitch as normal as I could pitch."
That's exactly what the Yankees saw.
Despite the fact that Schilling's fastball topped out at about 94 instead of his usual 97, his split-fingered fastball had its trademark bite and his pinpoint command was there.
"He threw the absolute same as Game 1," Derek Jeter said. "We just didn't get as many hits off him, but his stuff was the same."
"I thought he was decent," Jorge Posada added. "He did a good job of moving the ball around. He mixed locations very well. He got ahead of us, then he went to work. I thought we had some opportunities and didn't capitalize. We didn't do it in the clutch."
And before he even sat down to the podium in his postgame press conference, Yankees manager Joe Torre said, "Well, (heck), I mean, Curt Schilling was brilliant tonight."
Schilling said the doctors will use the same procedure to get him through the World Series if the Sox manage to win Game 7 on Wednesday night.
But for at least a few hours following his magical moment, Schilling preferred to talk about the team accomplishment he contributed to.
"I'm just so proud to be a part of this team," he said. "We just did something that has never been done yet. It ain't over yet. It ain't over by any stretch against this team and this organization. We have as much respect for them as any organization in the game.
"But I'm feeling pretty special about being a part of this club right now."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.