Beating the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in October is difficult enough. Having to do it against one of baseball’s top postseason pitchers makes the task even more daunting.
Schilling is 9-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 16 career playoff starts. That ERA ranks third all-time behind Christy Mathewson (1.06) and Waite Hoyt (1.83) among pitchers with at least 10 postseason starts.
Schilling—a right-hander, who turns 41 next month—threw seven scoreless innings last Saturday at Los Angeles to help the Red Sox complete a three-game sweep of their division series against the Angels with a 9-1 victory.
“You have to execute almost perfectly in October to be consistently successful,” said Schilling, who limited Los Angeles to six hits and one walk while striking out four.
He pitched one of his better games during the regular season at home against the Indians on May 28, when he struck out a season-high 10 in seven innings, giving up one run and six hits without a walk in Boston’s 5-3 win. For his career, he is 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven games - five starts - versus Cleveland.
If anyone on Cleveland’s staff is prepared to win a postseason duel with Schilling, it may be Fausto Carmona. The right-hander, who won all five of his September starts to finish tied with C.C. Sabathia for the team lead with 19 wins, continued his outstanding pitching on Oct. 5 in an ALDS matchup with the New York Yankees.
Carmona limited them to one run, three hits and two walks in nine innings. The Indians went on to win the game 2-1 in the 11th.
The Red Sox also are acutely aware of what Carmona is capable of doing. On July 25 at Jacobs Field, Carmona allowed just four hits and two walks in eight innings to outpitch Boston ace Josh Beckett and lead the Indians to a 1-0 victory.
“I know enough to know I’d rather be facing somebody else,” Schilling said. “This kid is something else. The game he threw in New York was just a dominating, dominating outing. He’s as good as anybody I’ve seen this year, and he was consistent.”
Carmona, though, will need to contain a Red Sox lineup playing at the top of its game. Boston has scored a total of 29 runs while batting .296 to win all four of its postseason games.
Sabathia was no match for the Red Sox in Game 1 on Friday. The Cleveland ace lasted only 4 1-3 innings and gave up eight runs as Beckett and Boston cruised to a 10-3 win which Indians manager Eric Wedge hoped to put in the past quickly.
“We keep going,” Wedge said. “(Game 1) is over. Our guys do a good job of separating from day to day and from situation to situation. We’ll chew on this one for a short period of time, a very short period of time tonight, and then we’ll move on to tomorrow.”
Red Sox sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez continued their sizzling October, reaching base safely all 10 times they came to the plate. Both players went 2-for-2, with Ramirez adding three walks and Ortiz walking twice and getting hit by a pitch.
“If they don’t give you nothing to hit, just take a walk,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz has reached base in 16 of his 18 plate appearances in the postseason and has scored seven runs, while Ramirez is 5-for-10 with eight walks, two home runs and seven RBIs.
Boston is 8-2 in playoff games at Fenway since Terry Francona began managing the team in 2004.