Schilling (5-7, 6.83) @ Chacon (5-9, 3.66)

Curt Schilling looks to build upon his previous two starts. Schilling pitched four excellent innings after the first two against Tampa Bay, giving up five runs. He then drew the White Sox and while his 6.1 IP, 4 ER were nothing to write home about, it was unquestionable progress.
He will oppose Shawn Chacon, who has been excellent for the Yankees – until he got bombed against Seattle. He was able to gut out six innings to save the bullpen, but coughed eight runs up. He followed it up with another good start, against Oakland, allowing two runs in 6.1 IP. Chacon will look to get a win much like Aaron Small did last night – two unlikely heroes beating the Red Sox.
Sure, it would have been nice to beat the Yankees, but we all have to remember we simply are not going to go undefeated this season. We were hurt by four errors, some indecision making by Kevin Millar (why was he in there?) and our offense continually threatening, but never busting it open. If this is what Aaron Small goes through every start, his luck will soon start to run out – it’s all luck if you get threatened near every inning and somehow escape out of it.
Schilling’s task will be daunting as the fans will ride him mercilessly and the Yankees will “cowboy up” against Schilling much like they used to do for Pedro. Schilling can stop them when he is on, but when he is off, the Yankees will be all over them. It is important for the Red Sox to get out of the gate quickly, clicking on all cylinders. Each person needs to be focused on playing defense – stopping runs, and just working the count so that you either walk or get a pitch you can jump out all over on. What we see from Schilling today will really go a long way in showing what we have in Schilling for this year.
I was reminded during the game that while I enjoy Damon’s success in the leadoff spot and his range, his arm is a detriment to Boston. The question is this offseason is – is it worth it? Do we pour four years and $40 million a year into Damon (way too much, but the market will cause Damon to command at least that much) for a below average arm? Can we get better elsewhere? That’s the problem – with what Damon brings offensively and with his range (I don’t buy any of this leadership stuff from Damon) we can’t, but that arm sure is aggravating. Add in age and its eventual offensive decline, and is Damon really worth as much as the Giants, the Angels, the Yankees will throw at him?
Damon in addition, had a terrible August- he went .252/.333/.320 which is amazing considering we had quite an enjoyable August. He has boosted that up in September so far somewhat, going .308/.333/.346 but that’s only twenty points of OPS on top of August, which means he’s had an OPS below .700 since August 1st which is quite disconcerting. Even though we are a good offense top to bottom, it really is true when Damon says that he makes the offense go.
Jason Varitek has also been in the midst of a horrendous skid – he’s got a .100/.250/.100 (I’m not sure if that includes last night’s game) line in September after a hot five months. It’s becoming increasingly important to me to get Doug Mirabelli some more time behind the plate – or even Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach is here to give us added flexibility, so start Mirabelli, give Varitek a day off, and if needed, feel free to pinch-hit Varitek – that way, you still have Shoppach hanging around. Boston still has quite a few issues, but we are still, nonetheless, in first place, and by three games. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Ask yourself if you would have objected to this in April, and you would have not. Just take a step back, breathe, and let things happen as they may.