Schilling (3-1, 3.27 ERA) is making his first start since the authenticity of his bloody sock from Game 6 of the 2004 AL championship series was questioned by Baltimore Orioles television announcer Gary Thorne last week.
The situation - like the fabled sock from the Game 6 win over the New York Yankees that appeared bloody following an ankle procedure Schilling had undergone to make the start - became a national focus, and Thorne apologized and admitted Friday that it was a misunderstanding after claiming catcher Doug Mirabelli told him it was red paint.
The outspoken Schilling took it one step further and blasted Thorne and the media in a blog on his personal Web site, offering $1 million to anyone who could prove it was not blood.
With no takers and the episode behind him, the fiery 40-year-old right-hander looks to keep Boston (16-8) rolling in the opener of a two-game home set with Oakland (12-13).
Schilling won his third decision in a row Wednesday, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings of a 6-1 victory at Baltimore.
“I have not pitched like this since 1992. I am not that 96 (mph) guy anymore,” Schilling said. “I can be effective and I can get outs and I can go deep in games and I can finish games just as easily with the stuff I am throwing now. There will be days when I feel better than others.”
Schilling’s retooled approach has paid dividends of late, as he’s posted a 0.82 ERA in the three straight victories. The Red Sox have won his last four starts, with the other victory coming April 20 in the opener of a three-game series sweep of the Yankees.
Boston beat up on the Yankees again over the weekend, winning 7-4 on Sunday to take two of three in the series. David Ortiz, Alex Cora and Manny Ramirez homered for Boston, which is assured of at least a 3 1/2-game lead in the AL East to end the opening month—the largest in franchise history after April.
Boston is in sole possession of the top spot in the division at the end of April for the first time since 2004, when Schilling and the Sox went on to win their first World Series title in 86 years.
“It’s a good month, but you can’t get caught up in the numbers,” said Cora, who went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs Sunday.
The Red Sox will try to carry April’s momentum into Tuesday’s matchup with Oakland, which they only beat three times in 10 meetings in 2006. Boston dropped the last four matchups - all on the road - and lost three of four at Fenway Park.
The only victory during that four-game series in Boston from July 13-16 came in a contest pitched by Schilling, as he held the A’s to two hits in seven innings and struck out nine in a 7-0 win July 15.
Oakland comes in with only one win in the last five games, having scored just six runs in the four defeats. The A’s dropped under .500 to finish April with a 5-3 home loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
They’ll look to Joe Blanton (2-1, 3.55) to help them get back on track Tuesday. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox - both at Boston.
Oakland wasted a terrific effort by Blanton in his last outing Wednesday, as the team managed only three hits in a 2-0 loss to Seattle. The right-hander threw a six-hitter, struck out six and walked two.
“We’re not swinging the bats well right now,” Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez said. “Joe pitched well and we didn’t score any runs.”
The Athletics’ .230 batting average and .309 on-base percentage are among the worst in the majors.