|Curt Schilling left Game 4 with a lead, but the win proved elusive.
NEW YORK -- Regular season or postseason, Curt Schilling is having one of the best stretches of any pitcher in history.
Earlier Thursday morning, though, all that wasn't doing him much good. He had pitched well enough to win, but he did not win. He had done something he had never done before in his career -- start on three days' rest -- and he had done it nobly.
But, so what? There was no victory attached to his work, for either the pitcher or the Arizona Diamondbacks. And now, well after the New York Yankees had won Game 4 Wednesday to tie the World Series at 2-2, he was standing in front of his locker, confronted with a series of questions about how he felt on this epic occasion -- physically, emotionally, mentally, vocationally, whatever.
But mostly physically, because, you know, he had never started before on three days' rest.
The point Schilling had tried to make, repeatedly, was that pitching on three days' rest was no big deal to him because he simply believed that he was physically capable of doing it. After several questions and answers along this same path, Schilling looked over the group of his interrogators and made an indisputable determination.
"I think of all the people standing here, I'm the only one who's played in the big leagues," Schilling said. "I know how I feel.
"I knew that I felt good. I knew that the other day after I threw. I treated these three days off like they were four. I felt good. I told guys it wasn't going to be [an issue]. I never looked at it like you guys look at it. I don't have that luxury.
"I felt fine. I told you guys I felt fine. I wouldn't have taken the ball if I didn't. I was more worried about seven or eight days off going into Game 1 then I was about three. I felt tonight I'd be sharp. I just had had to make pitches."
He made pitches. He looked like he felt fine. As a matter of fact, there was no way to tell that his usual rest between starts had been shortened by one day. He pitched seven innings against the Yankees, giving up one run on three hits, walking one, striking out nine.
Four days, three days, autumn days, Arizona days, Bronx days, this was merely a continuation of Curt Schilling's postseason dominance. In five 2001 postseason starts, he has pitched 41 innings. In those 41 innings he has allowed 19 hits. He has walked six. He has struck out 47. His earned run average is 0.88.
And he is 4-0. He should be 5-0. But after he departed Wednesday night, Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim, who struck out the side in the eighth, gave up a tying two-run homer in the ninth and a game-wining homer in the 10th.
Schilling has been involved in a tremendous postseason run, but here he was not, as they say, involved in the decision.
But the decision on everyone else's mind was Manager Bob Brenly's decision to remove Schilling after seven innings. Schilling had thrown only 88 pitches to that point. How did this deal go down?
"I was pretty gassed late," Schilling said. "I told him [Brenly] I had another one [inning] and he felt that was enough. They were asking me and I told them I felt like I had another one. But he felt that was enough. I told him I had at least another one in me, but he felt that the decision was to bring B.K. [Kim] in. We've done it all year and it's worked, but tonight it didn't.
"I felt good. I told him there was no reason to take me out right there. He's the manager. I just need to be honest with him. Sixth inning, seventh inning, I made a lot of what I call big pitches. It's 1-1, runners in scoring position, game's on the line. That can take a lot out of you, but I felt like I had another one in me.
"Eighth inning, it looked like an incredibly smart decision. B.K. came in, he looked phenomenal and we got it down to one out."
The inevitable question. You've gone out on three days' rest, you've pitched as well as humanly possible, and then you watch as the whole thing slips away. How is that experience?
"It sucks," Schilling said. "We're winning 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and we end up losing. It is what it is. It was a phenomenal game on both ends but they came out on top.
"I mean, they beat us. We had it, we were one out away and it didn't work out. Nothing you can do about that. Game's over. Hats off, they played a great game and the Series starts tomorrow, best of three."
To the notion that the Yankees now have the edge because they have won the last two games, Schilling basically scoffed.
"Like I said, it's a best of three," he said. "Momentum? Don't buy into that. It's a best of three and we got home field [advantage]."
If the teams split the next two games, there is every reason to expect Schilling to start that game on three days' rest for the second time in his career.
"I'm planning on pitching Game 7, if there is one," he said.
At this point, if there is a Game 7, you would not bet against Curt Schilling pitching in Game 7 and pitching extremely well in Game 7. He was terrific on short rest Wednesday night. He has been terrific for the last three weeks. All he lacked this time was the happy ending.
Mike Bauman is a reporter for MLB.com.