Thursday, June 07, 2007

Destiny Stands Up Schilling

Well, that was unfortunate. I tuned into this game on GameCast at work in the third inning or so, and realized that Schilling hadn't allowed a hit yet. For some reason, even though it was only the third inning, the first thing I checked - even before I checked to see how the Red Sox scored in the first - was whether Schill had allowed any base runners. He hadn't. Nine up, nine down.

Was it likely to continue? Of course not. But the Sox were reeling, having lost six of seven and allowed the Jays to get within single digits of first place, and Schilling has proven capable of stepping up and being the stopper when his team needed him most. I still think that if the Red Sox had managed to win Game Three of the ALDS in 2005, Schilling would have won Game Four, and it's possible that the White Sox are still considered red-headed step-brothers to the Cubs. When I saw the start he was off to, I thought anything was possible. I've trusted him ever since the Red Sox traded for him, and he always seems to rise to the occasion.

I checked the GameCast again in the sixth, and there were still no hits, but the #7 hitter had 2 at bats already. I checked Schilling's line - he didn't have any walks. So it had to be a hit batter (not likely given Schilling's control so far), or an error or something else very strange. Turns out, it was an error, and after skipping through the game on TiVo when I got home, I saw that it was a very makable play for Lugo (catapulting him ahead of J.D. Drew and just behind Coco Crisp on my Red Sox hate list). Little did I know how big that play would be.

I started watching for good in the seventh - as soon as Schill got two quick outs, I was locked in. After 5 o'clock, there were only three of us left in the office, and I feared that Schill would take the no-hitter into the 9th with plenty of time to spare until we closed at 6pm. Of course, he kept generating the ominous "ball in play, out(s) recorded" plays (which still drove me crazy, because it's always possible that a hitter gets a single and gets thrown out stretching it), and I was faced with a dilemma: should I run home and watch the 9th inning live, or should I stay put, watch on GameCast, and not disrupt the karma?

I chose to stay put. I didn't want to, but damnit, I wasn't going to have this hanging over my head if he lost it in the 9th because I just had to see the end on NESN. While he was pitching to Kotsay, some moron came into the office wondering why he hadn't gotten his security deposit back yet. By the time I realized it was because he gave us the wrong forwarding address (how do you do that, honestly?), Shannon Stewart was up, and he had put the first pitch in play. The first thing I saw was the little red dot in right field, showing where the ball had landed, and it was right near where had positioned J.D. Drew. I freaked out right away - was it a fly ball? A line drive? A grounder? Then I saw it...

"Ball in play, no out(s) recorded."

Ouch. So close, and yet so far. All I could think about was Julio Lugo - if he doesn't boot that ball, Jason Kendall most likely becomes the 27th straight out, and Schill has not only completed his no-hitter, but his perfect game, on the same mound where I saw him record his 3,000th strikeout last year. Shannon Stewart might not have even reached the plate, and Curt Schilling, on his 98th pitch, his first pitch to batter number 28, might not have given up that single.

The whole game was a laundry list of woulda-coulda-shoulda's, but I guess every near no-hitter is. The bottom line, as Schilling was quick to point out after the game, was that the losing streak was over, and Schilling had made one run stand up in as close to a must-win game as a team 9 games up in June can experience. Even though the Yanks are going to put down the White Sox again tonight, the Red Sox have a little more confidence as they pull into Arizona this weekend. In the long run, that's all that will matter.

But it would have been nice to see a no-hitter, particularly for a guy who's been in the game for so long and never been that close.

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