Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sox Give Rox Lowell Down

Once again, Curt Schilling proved the naysayers wrong. After getting shelled by Cleveland for nine hits and five earned runs in game two of the American League Championship Series, many thought that maybe he should be pulled from the Red Sox rotation. Some of us know the competitor Schilling is and were confident he would bounce back. Sure enough, he was dominant in game six of that series, pitching the Sox to a 12-2 win.

Tonight, it was the same old Schilling. No, he won't throw that 95 MPH fastball by you anymore. These days, Schilling relies on pinpoint location and his patented split-fingered fastball. Perhaps he was feeling some butterflies tonight in game two of the World Series as he hit the speedy Wily Taveras of the Colorado Rockies to begin it. After a Kazuo Matsui fly out, Matt Holliday squibbed a single to left to move Taveras to third. Todd Helton then pulled a grounder to first, scoring Taveras to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.

The Rockies had flame-thrower Ubaldo Jimenez pitching for them tonight, and for three innings, he was what can be called "effectively wild," holding the Sox scoreless, while walking two and hitting a batter. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the wildness finally began to catch up with Jimenez. With one out, Mike Lowell walked. J.D. Drew then singled Lowell to third with a single to right field. Catcher Jason Varitek evened the score at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to center to score Lowell.

The walk would come back to haunt Jimenez again in the fifth inning. With two outs, David "Big Papi" Ortiz walked. Manny Ramirez moved Big Papi to second with a single to left. Mike Lowell then did the hero work, doubling to left to score Ortiz and give the Sox a 2-1 lead and ending Jimenez' night. As it turned out, that was more than enough for Schilling and the rest of the Boston pitching contingent.

After that somewhat rocky start in the first, Schilling settled down to pitch masterfully the next four innings, allowing only two singles and a walk, while striking out four. Schilling got into some trouble in the sixth inning, giving up a one out single to Matt Holliday and a walk to Todd Helton. After making only 82 pitches, he was pulled for Hideki Okajima. Okajima quickly restored order, getting Garrett Adkins to ground out and striking out Brad Hawpe to end the inning.

Okajima was near-perfect in his 2 1/3 innings of work, striking out four batters, while not allowing a hit. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was brought in with two outs in the eighth inning and gave up an infield single to Matt Holliday. For Holliday, it was his fourth hit of the game. He was quickly erased though as Papelbon picked him off first to end the inning. In the ninth, "Paps" simply was dominant, blowing away Helton swinging at a 98 MPH fastball for the first out of the inning, retiring Adkins on a weak line drive to center, and then striking out Hawpe on a 97 MPH fastball to end the game.

Game three of the World Series will be Saturday night in Colorado. Game 7 ALCS winner Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound for the Red Sox, while "the dragonslayer" Josh Fogg pitches for the Rockies. The game will be televised at 8:35 ET/5:35 PT on your local Fox affiliate. As an added bonus, Carrie Underwood will be singing the National Anthem prior to the start of action.


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