Curt Schilling looks to win his first five starts of a season for the first time in his 19-year career when the Boston Red Sox open a three-game series Tuesday with the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
Schilling (4-0, 1.61 ERA) was 4-0 with Philadelphia in 1995 and 5-0 with Arizona in 2001, but had starts without decisions mixed in each time.
The 39-year-old right-hander has allowed one run in each of his last three outings, and has given up 17 hits and four walks while striking out 23 in 28 innings this season.
“I feel good,” said Schilling, who went 8-8 with nine saves and a 5.69 ERA in 2005. “I feel like I’m past all the tough times. I don’t feel like I’ve gone out there with everything working. It’s all about consistency.”
Schilling is 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA in five appearances against Cleveland, including a 1-1 mark and 2.25 ERA in two starts at Jacobs Field.
The closer role Schilling occupied for part of last season now belongs to Jonathan Papelbon, who converted his eighth save in as many opportunities Sunday as Boston (12-7) ended a season-high three-game skid with a 6-3 victory in Toronto.
Papelbon is one save short of the all-time rookie record for April, set by Kansas City’s Mike MacDougal in 2003.
David Ortiz homered twice in the three-game series with Toronto to give him eight on the season, and he hit .360 with two homers and six RBIs in six games against Cleveland in 2005. He is, however, just a .227 hitter in 37 games at Jacobs Field.
Manny Ramirez has bounced back from a slow start for Boston, raising his average 73 points to .273 by going 11-for-31 (.355) with seven RBIs over his last nine games. Ramirez played the first eight years of his career for the Indians, and is hitting .310 with 128 homers and 425 RBIs in 484 games at Jacobs Field.
Cleveland (10-9) will send Jake Westbrook (2-2, 5.92 ERA) to the mound Tuesday as it looks to break out of its recent slump. The Indians lost the last two of a three-game series with last-place Kansas City over the weekend, and have dropped four of their last five overall.
“We need to pick it up a little bit,” said Indians third baseman Aaron Boone, who has two hits in his last 16 at-bats. “One of our biggest strengths is that we come to play every day. We really need to notch it up and play better.”
Westbrook opened the season by allowing three runs in winning his first two starts, but he’s since given up 14 runs and 21 hits in 10 2-3 innings to lose his last two outings.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.07 ERA in three starts against Boston.
The Red Sox won four of six meetings with Cleveland last season, including a three-game sweep at Jacobs Field in June.