Broom and gloom for Red Sox
Schilling cannot prevent a stunning sweep by the lowly Royals
An exasperated Curt Schilling takes a deep breath after walking Emil Brown during his disastrous eighth inning. (AP Photo)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In these downtrodden times, veterans and youngsters should stand in front of the mirror and ask, ``Am I doing enough to help this team win?"
You can say Curt Schilling gave it up last night in a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals, allowing an embarrassing sweep to one of the worst teams in baseball.
Schilling would say that, especially feeling ``in control" as he walked to the mound with a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, then retiring the first batter, only to allow three runs and lose. The attitude he's portraying of challenging his fellow pitchers to be their best every time out is precisely the attitude the Red Sox need to end what has become the lowest point of their season after losing their fifth straight game.
And forget another team meeting -- that came and went prior to Wednesday's game and it yielded two gut-wrenching losses.
You do not lose, 5-4, after leading, 4-2, and come away with any sense of accomplishment. You do not lose five out of six to the Devil Rays and the Royals and feel as though things are going in the right direction.
MVP candidate David Ortiz, who was neutralized in this series (2 for 10 with one home run), was asked his reaction had someone said the Sox would go 1-5 on this trip. In a rare moment of laughter in a sullen clubhouse, Ortiz deadpanned, ``I would have stayed in Boston."
Which is precisely where the free falling Red Sox must right their wrongs starting tonight against the Baltimore Orioles, another team with nothing to lose.
``We've got to keep fighting," Ortiz said. ``Everybody here is trying hard. You always go through these times every year and then we start playing better. We've got to hang tight and go home and win some games. There's nothing you can do but hang in there."
Manager Terry Francona was of the same mind.
Francona spoke about the buoyancy that filtered through the dugout after Wily Mo Peña delivered one of his classic powerball's in the seventh inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead for the Sox.
Schilling (14-5), in Pete Carroll's words, was pumped and jacked as he strode to the mound in the eighth. On a night he allowed 11 hits, 9 doubles, 1 homer, and a game-winning single by Ryan Shealy that was lined off his glove, Schilling still felt he was in control.
``I don't know," he said. ``I think I gave up 11 hits. I didn't give up a single until the last hit of the game, but . . . the home run [Emil Brown in the sixth] was hit well, and a couple of doubles. The first hit of the game [a double by David DeJesus] fell into about a 1-foot square. The ground ball up the middle that [Mark] Teahen hits he hustles into a double. I don't know if there's any in-depth explanation. I didn't get the job done when I had to make pitches."
Schilling came into the eighth having thrown an economical 89 pitches. After Mike Sweeney's double down the right-field line, Teahen made what Francona called a ``Scott Rolen" play, setting his mind to get two bases after his ball shot between center and right. Teahen didn't stop running and knocked in the third run, which led to the game-tying run, veteran Reggie Sanders's double to right, opening the doors to Shealy's game-winner.
``I gave the game away," Schilling said. ``I gave a game away we should have won. I knew I was in control. I got that first out [in the eighth] and even though it would have been a bad trip at 2-4, it's still a win going home and everything felt fine. The wheels fell off."
Schilling said, ``It was a horrible trip. We didn't pitch well enough to win and if you want to play baseball instead of golf in October, we're going to have to pitch better. No one's absolved from that."
Peña's mammoth homer (No. 8), which landed 429 feet into an area in left-center (off the top of a Pizza Hut sign), showed a flash of Papi-like power. The 24-year-old Peña was traded for Bronson Arroyo, who started the season 9-3. After the Reds lost to the Cardinals yesterday, Arroyo dropped to 9-8, and he hasn't won in 10 starts.
``I was waiting for the same pitch I swung and missed on and I got a slider and got enough of it," Peña said of his prodigious shot. ``It was exciting when it happened because we took the lead, but in this game, you never know. They have a good team and they can come back just like we can come back. They're a major league team, just like us."
The Sox had taken a 1-0 lead on the comebacking Doug Mirabelli's solo homer in the third inning, but Kansas City answered in the fourth, Sanders's double to left field scoring Brown, who had doubled with two outs. Brown's two-out homer in the sixth gave the Royals a one-run lead.
In the seventh, after Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez handled Boston's lineup very well, Kevin Youkilis doubled and Mike Lowell singled, setting the stage for Peña.
The Sox bench was on its feet celebrating the go-ahead hit.
Ortiz said of Peña's homer, ``That's what happens when the ball cries."
But the real crying was to come.
The Sox were swept by the Royals for the first time since April 26-28, 1996. It resembled a series from the old days here, when the Sox were hapless every time they stepped onto the old turf, which has been replaced by grass.
``If we allow ourselves to be disheartened, we won't accomplish what we need to accomplish," said Francona, who was probably about to look in the mirror himself.