10/20/2004 2:05 AM ET
Bats have no answer for Schilling
Red Sox starter keeps Yanks quiet for seven innings
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
|Ruben Sierra accounted for half of Curt Schilling's four strikeouts on Tuesday night. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- For nearly a week, as Red Sox Nation stressed over the most famous tendon in postseason history, Yankees players were repeatedly asked for their takes but declined to get into it.
The Yankees simply didn't want to deal with Curt Schilling.
Tuesday night, quite remarkably, they had no choice. Also, little chance.
Schilling, the right-hander people did not expect to see until next February in Fort Myers, Fla., surfaced in Yankee Stadium to carry his Red Sox to the threshold of legend.
The day after his disastrous Game 1 start here, Boston general manager Theo Epstein and team doctor Bill Morgan sounded like Schilling was on a gurney on the way to an operation.
Tuesday night, Schilling operated, all right, to make Game 7 a reality and an unprecedented comeback a real possibility.
He did his major part in a 4-2 victory that already stamped the Red Sox as the first team in the history of baseball series to turn a 3-0 hole into a Game 7.
Schilling had arrived in Boston saying he was lured by the possibility of doing something that hadn't been done in 86 years, a reference obviously to the Red Sox's World Series drought.
Instead, he has now contributed to something that hadn't been done in 104 postseasons.
In seven innings Tuesday, the right-hander ruled over the no-longer rambunctious Yankees. Schilling held them to four hits and a run, exhibited flawless control, struck out four and enjoyed two untouchable stretches.
He retired the first eight men he faced, instantly making his mound presence credible, not just an emotional injection for a team that looks to him for leadership.
And once given a lead, Schilling retired the last 10 batters to face him.
"We had some opportunities early," Alex Rodriguez said. "But once he got a four-run lead, he settled down a bit. He had more of a margin for error."
|The Yankees' Nos. 2-5 hitters were virtually unstoppable in Games 1-3, but the Red Sox were able to slow them down in Games 4-6. More >||Nos. 2-5
The Yankees' margin for success was considerably slimmer. Aside from an isolated Miguel Cairo single with two outs in the third, they mounted only one notable threat against Schilling.
But that one offered great potential -- especially since it immediately followed Boston's four runs in the top of the fourth.
Singles by Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield opened the bottom. As the New York offense awakened, so did Yankee Stadium.
The 56,128 fans were convinced they were witnessing the opening rumbles of the pennant-clinching quake. They didn't expect Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada to go down without getting the ball out of the infield. They didn't expect Schilling to bar anyone else from reaching base on his watch.
"I thought he was decent," said Posada, who had sent Trot Nixon to the base of the right-field wall for his second-inning drive. "He did a good job of moving the ball around.
"He mixed his 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."
The Yankees also refused to do it with a crutch. Amid ample pregame speculation that they would bunt often to test the durability of Schilling's ankle, no New York batter as much as squared around.
Especially given the wet conditions, the Yankees could have been excused, on competitive grounds, for bunting. Particularly since fielding a Vladimir Guerrero chopper in Game 1 of the ALDS is how Schilling had aggravated the old injury.
But the Yankees preferred to fight, and, as it turned out, go down swinging. If that was a measure of respect, it is all Schilling was getting from Derek Jeter.
Even though it took countless side sessions and sutures to get Schilling back on the mound, and even though the radar gun testified to his improved torque (his best fastballs registered 94 mph, up six, seven from last week's norm), Jeter shrugged when asked for a comparison.
"He threw absolutely the same," Jeter said. "We just didn't get many hits off him."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.