Schilling Struggles In The Bronx

Schilling Struggles In The Bronx

Firebrand AL

Schilling Struggles In The Bronx

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Curt Schilling lives for these games. Yankees-Red Sox, national television, the world watching, the biggest stage in the baseball world- this appeared to be his time to shine. Apparently the Yankee lineup had other ideas. Schilling had some solid moments, but overall fluttered in his first start at Yankee Stadium in 2006. I decided to keep a game log of his outing last night:
Bottom 1: 2-0 Red Sox
Schilling starts out the game against former teammate Johnny Damon with a first pitch strike, a theme Schilling obviously made a decent attempt at repeating over the course of the night. The at-bat featured typical Damon: fouling off moving pitches on the corner, working the count, etc. before Schill finally put him away with a splitter in the dirt. Schill did a nice job setting up that dropping sinker with consistent 94-95 MPH fastballs to Damon. It was clear the home plate umpire was refusing to call near the outside corner (and he was very consistent with that), so even in the first inning Schilling tried to mix it up in other locations. Giambi lined an effective slider into center, but first pitch strikes did the trick, and Schill left the first unscathed.
Bottom 2: 3-0 Red Sox
At this point in the game the Red Sox have all the momentum in the world. Lowell and Ortiz have gone deep already, and Schilling appears to be cruising. In the second, though, he gets in some trouble when Robinson Cano delivers the first mistake of the night into center for a single on a pitch that looks like 2005 Schill. The pitch was simply a hanging splitter that we saw so many times last year. Schilling again gave the Yankees a pitch to drive, getting behind in the count and feeding Bernie a 2-0 fastball that drives in a run with a sac fly. Apparently the blind can see tonight. The key to the inning was a 0-1 pitch to Damon with 2 on and 2 out that Schilling placed perfectly on the outside corner. Varitek?s glove did not move an inch, and the umpire gave him the call, much to Damon?s dismay. Once I thought Schill had Damon out, Johnny gives a hanging slider a rip to left field where Manny Ramirez flashes some serious leather. Why does everyone think he?s such a gruesomely terrible defensive player (okay, throw the stats at me)?
Bottom 3: 3-1 Red Sox
So far, Schilling has had no problem throwing strikes. The location has been somewhat of an issue, and it will continue to be as the game advances. Schill got ahead 0-2 on Jeter with some crafty heaters with movement, but gave up a line-drive single after abandoning a splitter due more to Jeter?s great eye at the plate than Schilling lacking confidence. The first signs of a disappointing night came this inning when Jason Giambi smoked a 2-run homer into right center to tie the ballgame. Even though Schill battled back and got Matsui on an assortment of off-speed pitches, he would not recover from the Giambi shot.
Bottom 4: 3-3 tied
Robinson Cano has probably seen Curt Schilling less than anybody in the Yankees lineup tonight besides Melky Cabrera and maybe Johnny Damon, but Cano is looking like a fine-tooled veteran with his smooth stroke through the hitting zone. Cano is a real player and could contend for a batting title in the near future (excuse me while I electrocute myself). Luckily Schilling would react with force after the Cano single. The Boston ace retired Bernie Williams on his best pitch of the night- a splitter in the dirt. He then retired Melky and Johnny on a web gem from Youk. Second time Damon has been robbed of a big hit tonight. While Schill is giving up hard hits, his action around the outside corner has fooled the Yankee lineup.
Bottom 5: 3-3 tied
The inning led off with Derek Jeter, a player who rarely strikes out, and rarely looks like a rookie doing so. Schilling delivered another Bernie-like splitter to retire Jeter. Schilling?s splitter can be extremely effective when he keeps it down, as we all know. Schill even appeared to be heading into cruise control after throwing a perfect at-bat to Giambi, using the outside corner to perfection and making the first baseman look terribly silly on the third strike. Then all hell broke loose. Schilling began to tire and miss Varitek?s glove, falling behind to Alex Rodriguez and eventually delivering a package of meat to Slappy?s wheelhouse. A-Rod absolutely crushes a hanging whatever, making the exciting two strikeouts that preceded the home run worth nothing. He then walked Matsui on base after being up 0-2. Next came Jorge Posada, who appropriately nailed an inside fastball into the first row in right field. Cheap homer? Maybe. But regardless, the wise Curt Schilling badly missed his location on that slower fastball meant for the outside corner. He would finish the inning and his night would also be concluded.
Overall, it was a very disappointing night for Curt. He seems to be falling back to earth after getting off to that terrific start to the season. A mix of poorly located splitters, a fastball losing velocity later in the inning, and simply a pinstripe powerhouse lineup all contributed to the big-time L. You know Schilling hates losing big games, especially against New York, and I?m sure he?ll pitch with a tint of revenge later this week.

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