Red Sox 2, Mariners 1
Tony Gwynn: Best hitter: Pujols, Bonds or A-Rod?
From his barehanded stab of a hard one-hopper by Ichiro Suzuki to his mid-90s fastball to his pinpoint control, Boston’s ace showed another opponent — and his rain-soaked hometown fans—that he is back and, perhaps, better than ever.
Schilling allowed three hits in eight innings Friday night in a 2-1 Boston win. Striking out seven and walking none, Schilling started the season with wins in his first three starts for the first time since 2002.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to be this year,” said Schilling, who won just four games in 11 starts last year. “I feel I’m pitching better than I ever have.”
That includes the three years when Schilling (3-0) won at least 20 games. But last year he spent 76 days on the disabled list with an ankle injury and struggled all season. This year, an effective slider and changeup and better inside pitching have made him hard to hit.
“I’ve seen him for a long time and he should be confident,” manager Terry Francona said. “But last year he wasn’t healthy.”
Pitching at home for the first time this season and in a rain that fell steadily from the fifth inning to the end, Schilling lowered his ERA from 1.93 to 1.64. He allowed a run in the fifth on a double by Richie Sexson, who came around on two grounders.
Schilling got all the support he needed from an unlikely source. Alex Gonzalez, signed as a free agent for his fielding prowess at shortstop and not his hitting ability, drove in both runs with a double in the fourth and went 3-for-4 with two doubles off Jamie Moyer (0-2).
“I threw the ball decently. It seemed like I had to pitch out of trouble every inning,” Moyer said in a hoarse voice caused by a sickness he’s had for a few days. He said it didn’t affect his performance.
The game matched two of baseball’s best veteran pitchers as Schilling made his 517th major league appearance and Moyer made his 541st.
Moyer threw 51 pitches in the first two innings and left after six after allowing two runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts. He escaped jams in the first, when the Red Sox stranded two runners, and in the second, when they left the bases loaded. His record dropped to 0-5 in his last seven starts against Boston.
“For us to be 7-3 after 10 games when our offense isn’t even close to hitting its stride is a positive thing,” Schilling said.
He has allowed just 11 hits in 22 innings. Jonathan Papelbon, who got his fifth save in five opportunities, has been even stingier, allowing hitters to go just 2-for-20.
“It’s nice to give him the ball,” Francona said. “I have a lot of confidence in the young man.”
Schilling pitched seven innings in each of his first two starts, allowing two runs and five hits at Texas and one run and three hits at Baltimore.
“Jamie did a very good job,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “He threw well enough to win, but so did the other guy.”
That other guy, Schilling, faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings, allowing only a single in the third to Kenji Johjima, who was erased on a double play. Schilling even made an outstanding play himself when he grabbed Suzuki’s grounder and threw out him in the fourth.
“I knew how we were defending the batter,” Schilling said. “I felt that if I didn’t catch the ball, it was a hit. It was just a reaction kind of thing.”
Sexson got Seattle’s second hit and scored on Carl Everett’s one-out groundout.
Jeremy Reed hit a leadoff double in the sixth and took third on a groundout by Yuniesky Betancourt. Schilling got out of the jam by striking out the next two batters, then retired the side in order in the seventh.
He finished his outing with another perfect inning—getting Everett on a flyout, Johjima on a strikeout and Reed on a groundout in the eighth.
“We had our chances,” Everett said. “I’m not going to give him credit,” Everett said of Schilling. “That’ll never happen. I make my living off of pitchers.”
Boston is 3-0 when it scores fewer than three runs after going 3-22 in such games last season. … Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3 to extend his slump to 1-for-18. … The last four batters in Boston’s lineup went 8-for-16. … Seattle’s Rafael Soriano entered with runners at first and second and one out in the seventh, then retired Mike Lowell on a double-play grounder with his first pitch.