PHOENIX -- This is getting routine for Curt Schilling.
|Schilling transformed the mighty Yankees into the Bronx bummers.
Another postseason start, another dominating performance, another victory. The only thing different is that this time, he didn't finish.
"We were thinking ahead," Reggie Sanders said with a knowing smile.
Thinking ahead to Game 4, is what Sanders means. And if I'm the Yankees, that makes me a little bit uneasy.
It's not that the Yankees were expecting to see Schilling just once in this series. He was, and still is, officially scheduled to start Game 5. But since he was in command after the first inning, and because the Diamondbacks actually gave him a big lead for a change, he left after throwing just 102 pitches. That's a game of catch in the backyard for a workhorse like Schilling.
And that means Arizona has an interesting option: Bringing back Schilling on short rest for Game 4. Not to be trite, but that's a phenomenal ace to have up your sleeve.
"It might," Brenly responded when asked if Schilling's "short" outing would have a bearing on him coming back earlier than expected.
"He could be," was Brenly's answer to the "Is Schilling your probable pitcher for Game 4?" query.
Brenly was being coy, to great comic effect. Brenly spoke about the gameplan, going with four starters and bringing back Schilling for Game 5.
But he knew, and everyone in the interview room knew, that if the D-Backs are down 2-1, there isn't any doubt who will start Game 4. And it won't be Miguel Batista.
"I'll be rested. Whenever he gives me the ball," Schilling said. "If he needs me in Game 4, I'll be ready in Game 4.
"I'm not possibly available. I'm available. This is the World Series. If I have three days rest or four days rest, I'm not really sure it's going to make a whole lot of difference."
His availability could make a huge difference in this series. If I'm Brenly, I even think seriously about bringing Schilling back if they're up a game. That way, he can possibly pitch Game 7 as well. The only way Batista starts that game, in my book, is if the Diamondbacks are up 3-0.
Schilling's bulldog mentality is exactly what the D-Backs needed to open this series, and exactly what they'll need in Yankee Stadium. He's shown that now in four postseason starts, spanning a total of 34 innings. He's allowed just three earned runs.
And this time, he got to pitch with a large lead. The way he's been dealing, a large lead is two runs, but he hasn't had much margin for error up until this laugher. You couldn't even get a sense of how good Schilling's stuff was here because he wasn't tested after Arizona scored eight times in the third and fourth innings.
"You spot Curt Schilling an eight-run lead and he's going to bring it home every time," Mark Grace said.
Spot Schilling any lead these days and he's almost sure to bring it home. That's why it is almost imperative for him to get the ball for Game 4.
That, and his completely fearless attitude. Much is made of the Yankees' mystique, how their experience and all those championships intimidate opponents. There's no chance of Schilling being awed into a bad performance in Yankee Stadium. He appreciates the history, but he is impervious to its ability to make adversaries fold in its wake.
"You know, the Yankees are who they are," Schilling said. "They have got (38) championship banners and I think, what, 26 World Series because of their ownership and the characters and players that they put on the field. But that does not mean that they are going to beat us. We have a job to do and we deserve to be here just like they deserve to be here. At the end of nine innings, ultimately the players are going to decide who wins.
"I'm not trying to get Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig or Mantle out. I'm trying to get the Yankee lineup out today and that's what I'm focused on."
The way he's been pitching, he probably could handle that legendary trio. And that's why if he gets two more starts in this series, the Diamondbacks will win in seven.
Jonathan Mayo is a columnist for MLB.com.