The last time Curt Schilling took the mound at Yankee Stadium, the legend of the bloody sock was born. The hard-throwing right-hander hasn’t been the same since.
Schilling pitched with a stitched-together right ankle in Game 6 of last year’s AL championship series at Yankee Stadium, laboring through seven strong innings to help Boston to a 4-2 win.
The victory evened the best-of-seven series after New York ran out to a 3-0 lead. The next night, the Red Sox completed the greatest comeback in postseason history, assuring that Schilling’s courageous performance would be remembered as one for the ages.
After picking up one of four straight victories in the World Series against St. Louis, Schilling had offseason surgery to repair the ankle, but hasn’t yet recaptured the form that made him one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the last five seasons.
He went 1-2 with an 8.15 ERA in three April starts before landing on the disabled list for two months as the ankle continued to ache. He returned in July as Boston’s closer with Keith Foulke recovering from knee surgery and promptly surrendered a game-winning homer to Alex Rodriguez at Fenway Park on July 14.
Schilling made 21 relief appearances with mixed results before returning to the rotation on Aug. 25. In three starts, he has yielded 15 runs and 27 hits over 17 1-3 innings, striking out 13 and walking five.
Schilling suffered his second loss in three starts Monday, allowing four runs and nine hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 setback to the Chicago White Sox.
“I felt as strong when I came out of the game as I did when I went in,” said Schilling, whose 118 pitches matched a season high.
The Yankees took Friday’s series opener 8-4 to shave Boston’s lead in the AL East to three games. Derek Jeter made two impressive defensive plays and drove in the go-ahead run as New York remained a half-game behind Cleveland in the AL wild-card race.
Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada homered for the Yankees, who have won each of the previous seven AL East titles, with Boston finishing second each time.
Bill Mueller went 3-for-4 and Edgar Renteria drove in a pair of runs for Boston, which is trying to hold on for its first division crown since 1995, when the Yankees finished second and settled for the wild card.