Minnesota (38-30) at Boston (39-29)

Fair Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 51° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 22, 2004
  • TV: FSNO, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Curt Schilling is the only sure thing the Boston Red Sox have. That is, as long as he’s healthy.

Schilling will make his first start since having an MRI on his sore right ankle when the Red Sox take on the visiting Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game series.

With Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe inconsistent and Tim Wakefield yet to find the form he showed during last year’s postseason, Schilling has been the ace of the Boston staff.

Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason and signed to a $37.5 million, three-year contract, Schilling has pitched at least seven innings in 10 of his 14 starts. He has 88 strikeouts and 19 walks in 98 innings this season.

The 37-year-old right-hander was 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA over his previous five starts heading into Wednesday’s outing at Colorado, but was pounded for seven runs and nine hits over six innings in an eventual 7-6 loss, his first defeat since mid-May.

Schilling, though, said his ankle was not the reason for the poor outing.

“No real excuse. I felt great early in the game, I felt like we were hitting every spot we wanted to hit,” Schilling said. “We had a chance, but I failed to make some pitches in situations that would have kept us in the game, and ultimately we could have won the game.”

Still, Schilling was sent for the MRI on Friday.

“The condition of his ankle appears stable. We are making no changes in his treatment,” Red Sox doctor Bill Morgan said. “We will continue to observe his symptoms and act on any changes.”

Schilling has had injections of an anesthetic in his ankle before each of his last few starts.

Manager Terry Francona said Schilling was expected to throw on the side at Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday.

The Red Sox have had an up-and-down June, winning just eight of 17 games to drop 4 1/2 back of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. Boston was held to just one hit Sunday by Jason Schmidt in a 4-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

However, the Red Sox have the third-best home record in the majors, winning 22 of 33 games. Schilling has played a big role in that dominance, going 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA at Fenway Park.

“We’re looking forward to getting back to Fenway,” center fielder Johnny Damon said. “We’ve been playing well there. The road hasn’t treated us very nicely this year. Getting back to Fenway is going to do us good.”

The Twins have won nine of 13, despite dropping two out of three at Milwaukee over the weekend.

Infielder Luis Rivas is batting .575 (19-for-33) with two homers and six RBIs since returning from a strained right groin on June 9.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Lohse Mil vs. C. Schilling Bos
9-13 Record 21-6
5.34 ERA 3.26
111 K 203
76 BB 35
1.63 WHIP 1.06