ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Curt Schilling has pitched a lot better in big games than he did Tuesday.
Fortunately, he had a large margin for error early on, so everything worked out for the Boston Red Sox.
Schilling worked effectively into the seventh inning, Manny Ramirez and Kevin Millar homered during a seven-run burst in the fourth and the Red Sox beat the Anaheim Angels 9-3 to open the AL playoffs.
Schilling said he felt “incredibly strong” in the bullpen before the game and had good velocity, but struggled otherwise.
“I knew I wasn’t as sharp as I have been,” he said. “Looking back, I made some mistakes today. I left some pitches over the plate. (But) solo home runs don’t beat you.”
Each team hit two homers, but Boston’s produced five runs and Anaheim’s only two.
And the Red Sox had an 8-0 lead after 3 1/2 innings.
“All you can ask from him is to go out there and give us a chance to win,” said Millar, whose two-run homer triggered Boston’s big inning. “We swung the bats enough to give him a lead, and he held it.”
Schilling gave up nine hits and three runs, two earned, and allowed at least one baserunner in every inning. He walked two and struck out four in 6 2-3 innings.
The 37-year-old right-hander entered with a 5-1 record and a 1.66 ERA in 11 previous postseason appearances.
Schilling also tweaked his right ankle and said afterward it was a little sore. But he said he doesn’t believe it will create any problems.
“We’re up 1-0. Tomorrow’s starters will determine momentum going into the game,” Schilling said. “This is a tough place to win. But we’ve got Pedro going. I’m pretty excited about that.”
The Angels are in a familiar place, having lost series openers to the Yankees, Twins and Giants two years ago before rebounding to beat those teams en route to the World Series championship.
“Hopefully we can bounce back like we did then,” losing pitcher Jarrod Washburn said.
Just like the 2002 postseason, most of the fans at Angel Stadium wore red and made it noisy by banging ThunderStix. The volume level decreased significantly after the Red Sox’ took their big lead, and not even stuffed Rally Monkeys could spur the home team.
The seven runs were the most ever scored by the Red Sox in an inning in the postseason and the most ever allowed by the Angels. Five of the runs were unearned because of a throwing error by third baseman Chone Figgins.
Boston went ahead for good off Washburn in the first on a two-out double by Ramirez and a broken-bat single by David Ortiz.
Ortiz walked to begin the fourth and Millar hit an 0-1 offspeed pitch into the left-field bullpen, making it 3-0. The Red Sox then loaded the bases with one out, and two runs scored when Figgins fielded Johnny Damon’s grounder but was far off target with his throw home as he went for the force.
“In a game like this, it’s certainly more irritating than a regular-season game. There’s a lot more riding on it,” Figgins said. “I played aggressively. That’s the way I play. If it happens tomorrow, I’m going to do the same thing. I’m not beating myself up.”
Troy Glaus, MVP of the 2002 World Series, hit Schilling’s second pitch in the bottom half for a long home run.
Darin Erstad added a solo homer in the seventh, and the Angels got another run on Schilling’s throwing error and an RBI double by Glaus.
Many in the crowd began waving Rally Monkeys during the seventh. They were all over the place during the Angels’ postseason run two years ago.
The Angels weren’t retired in order until Mike Timlin relieved to begin the bottom of the eighth. He set down all six batters he faced, striking out the side in the ninth.
Slow-footed Bengie Molina lined a single with two outs and a runner at first in the Angels’ sixth. Right fielder Gabe Kapler threw to first, with the ball sailing over first baseman Millar’s head. The play prompted laughter in the Boston dugout and would have been close had the throw been accurate.
Vladimir Guerrero went 0-for-5 in his first playoff game, and made the final out. … Erstad and Glaus had three hits each. … Longtime Angels standout Tim Salmon threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Salmon hasn’t played since Aug. 23 because of injuries to his left knee and left shoulder … Francona said he’s not concerned about Martinez, who allowed 30 hits and 21 runs in 23 1-3 innings in his last four starts. “I’ll bet you every manager wishes they could start him in Game 2,” Francona said. … Martinez didn’t appear in the interview room before the game as the following day’s starting pitchers usually do, and didn’t join his teammates on the field for the pre-game introductions.
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