RED SOX 4, YANKEES 2: Ailing Curt Schilling is brilliant as Boston, once down 3-0 in games, forces Game 7.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published October 20, 2004
NEW YORK - Curt Schilling didn't just shut up the New York fans with his stunning comeback performance Tuesday night.
He and his teammates left a pretty huge lump in the Yankees' throats, too, with a 4-2 Red Sox victory that extended the AL Championship Series to a seventh and deciding game tonight.
"It ain't over yet," Schilling said.
Schilling, who a few days ago seemed more likely to be in the hospital than on the mound, pitched seven dazzling innings after having his injured right ankle sutured. Struggling Mark Bellhorn hit a three-run home run. Worn-down closer Keith Foulke survived a ninth-inning rally. And the Red Sox came out on the right side of two controversial calls.
The Red Sox are one win from an amazing and unprecedented comeback in a series that seemed over Saturday when they fell behind 3-0. And the Yankees are one loss from a shocking ouster that surely would evoke an explosion from owner George Steinbrenner.
"I guess it was supposed to come to Game 7," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It looks like we've been trying to close the deal for three days and we put a little pressure on ourselves. Now there's no pressure; we just have to go out and win a game."
The Red Sox made some slight history and moved to the brink of more, plus gained the opportunity for revenge after being ousted by the Yankees in Game 7 of last year's ALCS.
Of the 26 teams to go down 3-0, the Red Sox were the third to extend a series to a sixth game and the first to get to Game 7.
Being the first to come back and win a series after being down 3-0 would be a slightly bigger deal. The only teams in the major pro sports to do so were the Toronto Maple Leafs, over Detroit in the 1942 Stanley Cup finals, and the New York Islanders, over Pittsburgh in the second round of the 1975 playoffs.
The Red Sox, after saying they would start knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Game 7, are believed to be leaning toward instead using Derek Lowe. The Yankees said they hadn't made a decision yet but are likely to be considering Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez.
Schilling made a successful and apparently courageous return to the mound, with the sutures helping stabilize the dislocated peroneal tendon in his right ankle.
The injury limited Schilling to three ineffective innings in the Oct. 12 series opener and made it seem doubtful he would pitch again before having surgery. Instead, he pitched a gem, holding the Yankees to one run on four hits over seven innings.
"I don't think people have any idea what he went through to pitch tonight," Francona said. "The medical staff actually sutured that area with stitches. For him to go out there and do what he did, you can talk all you want about that (ankle) area, his heart is so big."
Schilling retired the first eight Yankees before allowing a hit, worked out of the only real jam he had and gave up only a seventh-inning home run to Bernie Williams.
As if the games don't have enough drama, there was an eighth-inning controversy that led to the Yankees losing a run and fans littering the field with bottles, causing a three-minute delay. The game was delayed again in the ninth inning when several dozen police in riot gear were summoned to line the field.
The controversy started with Alex Rodriguez's slow roller toward first. When pitcher Bronson Arroyo attempted to tag him, Rodriguez slapped Arroyo's arm and knocked the ball free. First-base umpire Randy Marsh originally called Rodriguez safe, with Derek Jeter racing home from first thinking he had cut the Boston lead to 4-3.
But the umpires huddled and made the correct call, with Rodriguez out on interference and Jeter sent back to first. The Yankee Stadium fans responded by littering the field with garbage. Arroyo, the Hernando High product, got Gary Sheffield to foul out to end the inning.
There was also controversy over Bellhorn's fourth-inning homer, which struck a fan and bounced back onto the field. Leftfield umpire Jim Joyce ruled it in play, but that call was also changed before anyone could find Jeffrey Maier, the kid who in the 1996 ALCS reached out and touched a ball that was ruled a homer.