Curt Schilling goes for his first win in more than two months on Sunday afternoon as the Boston Red Sox try to avoid losing a series to the Baltimore Orioles for the first time in more than two years.
This is the second start for Schilling (6-5, 4.31 ERA) since he spent seven weeks on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. He allowed two runs through the first six innings of his return Monday against the Los Angeles Angels, but tired in the seventh as he was charged with two more runs without recording an out and Boston lost 4-2.
“While I’m not throwing the ball 95 anymore, I didn’t get beat by my fastball tonight,” Schilling said. “I got beat making some horrible off-speed pitches.”
Since throwing a one-hitter to beat Oakland on June 7, Schilling has lost all three of his starts while posting an 8.80 ERA and a .406 opponent batting average. It’s the first time he’s dropped three consecutive starts since losing four straight in 2000 with Arizona.
“As long as the physical questions are answered—and I have no reason to believe they’re not—it’s a matter of making adjustments,” said Schilling, who has served up 13 homers in 16 starts. “I have not consistently done that, and the numbers reflect that.”
Maybe the 40-year-old right-hander will benefit from facing Baltimore, with whom he began his major league career in 1988. Besides the Orioles being among the worst home run-hitting teams in the majors with 87, Schilling is 4-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his last six starts against them—1-0 in two outings this year.
Plus, he may be pitching in front of another Red Sox-friendly crowd at Camden Yards. Saturday’s game, won 6-2 by Boston as Josh Beckett got his major league-best 15th victory, had the sixth-largest crowd in the ballpark’s history at 49,242 and many of them were dressed in red while cheering for the Red Sox.
“It feels like a home game here,” said Boston catcher Jason Varitek, who is 2-for-7 in this series following an 0-for-13 slump. “They give us a spark that other teams can’t get when they’re on the road.”
If the Red Sox (70-46) win Sunday’s finale of this three-game set, it would mark their 12th consecutive series victory over the Orioles (53-62). Baltimore has lost 27 of the last 33 meetings, and hasn’t won a series versus Boston since July 7-10, 2005, at Camden Yards.
One Orioles regular who won’t be able to help end that drought is Jay Gibbons, who will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Tuesday. The veteran outfielder has been used mostly as a designated hitter since getting hurt diving for a ball on July 1.
Gibbons was batting .230 with career lows of six homers and 28 RBIs in 83 games.
“Well, obviously it’s frustrating, this whole year, and then to have it end like this is not fun,” Gibbons said.
Baltimore has gone 3-7 in August mainly because of a struggling pitching staff. The Orioles have a 6.31 ERA this month while opponents have hit .326 against them.
It’s hard to blame Steve Trachsel (5-7, 4.88) for those bad numbers. The right-hander takes the hill Sunday having surrendered two earned runs in 11 2-3 innings this month, not receiving a decision in two starts.
In his previous two outings—following a stint on the DL with a strained gluteus muscle—Trachsel was tagged for nine runs and 16 hits in 10 innings. He’s 0-3 in eight starts since beating Colorado on June 8.
However, he is 3-0 with a 4.20 ERA in nine outings at Camden Yards this year.
He’s faced Boston twice this season—both at Fenway Park—and did not get a decision either time while posting a 2.61 ERA. Trachsel won his only other career start against the Red Sox in 2000 with Tampa Bay.
The hottest hitter he’ll face is Dustin Pedroia, who is 18-for-38 (.474) with six RBIs and 10 runs in his last 10 games.