Curt Schilling, Boston's No. 1 blogger and No. 2 starter with a second-rate fastball, didn't make his way out of the fifth inning last night against the Indians.
Schilling's struggles in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, won by Cleveland, 13-6, began early.
He was tagged for a double by Grady Sizemore, Cleveland's leadoff hitter, in the first. Two outs later, catcher Victor Martinez doubled home Sizemore, and the Red Sox, for the second time in the series, were in a 1-0 hole before swapping their gloves for bats.
Jhonny Peralta opened the second inning with a single, Schilling again unable to retire the leadoff hitter - often a sign that troubles are sure to follow. However, the veteran righthander retired the next hitter, Kenny Lofton, on a fly to center, and then ended the inning with a Franklin Gutierrez 6-4-3 double play.
It appeared Schilling was picking up momentum headed into the fourth, after setting down Casey Blake (K), Sizemore (fly to left), and Asdrubal Cabrera (fly to center) in the third for his only 1-2-3 inning. But with one out in the fourth, trouble knocked at Schilling's door, then ripped it off its hinges and flattened the Sox' 40-year-old starter.
Martinez started it with a single to right. Next, Ryan Garko shot another single up the middle. Peralta was next, and Schilling had the count at 1 and 1, but Peralta sat back, loaded up, and hammered one to straightaway center field for a three-run homer. With one swing of the bat, the Sox went from a 3-1 lead to a 4-3 deficit.
"No one should feel bad in this clubhouse but me," Schilling said after the game. "You knew we were going to ground it out on [Fausto Carmona], put together a great inning, take a lead. Up to the Peralta at-bat, I still had it. But I let it get away, put our bullpen in a bad situation.
"This is all about me coming up small in a big game."
Indeed, of the top four starters in the series, only Boston's Josh Beckett, the Game 1 winner, lived up to the billing. Both C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland's Game 1 starter) and Schilling's opponent, Carmona, dropped the ball.
Likewise, Schilling, despite his decorated postseason dossier, didn't deliver the goods.
It got worse for him in the fifth, eventually leading to his briefest postseason appearance since Game 1 of the 2004 AL Championship Series, when the Yankees chased him in three innings (his shortest stint ever in the playoffs). Sizemore, like Peralta the inning before, picked on a juicy 1-and-0 offering with one out and hammered it into the Red Sox bullpen for the 5-3 lead. After Cabrera struck out, Travis Hafner and Martinez followed with back-to-back singles, and Schilling's night officially came to an end.
Manny Delcarmen took the baton and escaped further trouble by forcing Garko into a grounder.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.