Sunday, October 24, 2004
Updated: October 25, 4:13 AM ET
World of Curt for Cardinals
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
Premier playoff pitcher
BOSTON -- Curt Schilling is getting close to the point where you have to ask ... is he the greatest postseason pitcher of all time?
In 15 starts in the postseason, he's allowed more than two earned runs twice -- and one of them was when his ankle tore apart against the Yankees in New York.
Schilling really had nothing Sunday against the Cardinals, throwing 87-91 mph without great location. His splitter was flat, but he just finds a way.
He had trouble getting up on his splitter, but he threw one great one to Jim Edmonds for a strikeout and another great one to Larry Walker for a strikeout -- it was just an amazing performance.
Against one of the best lineups in baseball, for Schilling to get through six innings with the stuff he had Sunday was astounding.
Kicking back at home
The Red Sox are so tough in Fenway Park. They sit there and sit there. The two first-inning walks are a perfect example. Matt Morris is hyped up and trying to make quality pitches but the Red Sox are so patient. He made three good pitches to Jason Varitek and then threw one bad changeup and Varitek hits it off the fence.
They just wait, wait, wait, like Mark Bellhorn, who goes to 3-2 every at-bat. Morris throws him one fastball and Bellhorn hits it off the fence. Then Orlando Cabrera's great seven-pitch at-bat. He fouled three pitches off in a row, then gets a ball, then hits the next pitch off the fence. Their patience is phenomenal.
It's also very tough for St. Louis because the Cardinals don't have pitchers who get a lot of swing-and-misses, so they can't put the Red Sox away. Boston had an incredible seven swings-and-misses in Game 1 followed by seven swings-and-misses in Game 2. The Red Sox just put the ball in play and go deep in counts and that's what wins games.
The fact that Schilling overcame four errors made behind him says a lot about the kind of pitcher he is. Every time he came back with a great pitch. After a dropped popup, he eventually came back to get Edmonds, who is a tough out to get. The first pitch after the first error, Schilling gets a groundball. Every time he regained his composure and made a great pitch.
Part of the Red Sox's problem defensively is the field conditions, but they have actually played great defensively for much of this season. Bill Mueller has had a tremendous year. The first error wasn't his fault. Jason Varitek is so aggressive and plays so hard. Twice in the postseason he's run over Mueller going for a popup.
Tough as nails
Keith Foulke is absolutely locked in right now -- 12 straight appearances without a run.
To come in two nights in a row and face Edmonds, who is a great hitter, in a jam and strike him out twice -- with fastballs -- is astonishing. I never knew Foulke was this tough. He's got the makeup of a hockey player ... which by the way is his favorite sport. He's a quiet guy, but he has great reliever makeup and is one of the toughest players in the game. He outpitched Mariano Rivera in the ALCS and has been incredible in the first two games of this series.