Is Curt Schilling an eventual Hall of Famer? Perhaps.
One of the best pitchers of his generation, Schilling's resume is impressive: two World Series rings; one World Series co-MVP; 213 wins, and counting; an average of nearly a strike out per inning over his more than 3000 innings pitched; 20 career shutouts; a career 3.44 ERA; and one very famous bloody sock.
But the one thing that Schilling's resume is missing is one thing he would undoubtedly love to finally add -- a no-hitter. He's come close on a couple of occasions, but never more so than on Thursday in Oakland. On this day he was tantalizingly, frustratingly close.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Schilling shook off catcher Jason Varitek, who called for a first-pitch slider to Shannon Stewart. Instead, Schilling threw a fastball to Stewart, who promptly lined a a clean single to right field.
And with that hit, Schilling's bid for a no-hitter was washed away once again. In the end, Schilling ended up with the third one-hitter of his career, as he'd previously done in 1992 and 2002.
The 40-year-old would have been the third-oldest pitcher to pitch a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan did it as a 43- and 44-year old, and Cy Young was 41 when he pitched a no-hitter for the Red Sox in 1908.
But it was a tremendous outing, nonetheless, that helped the Sox break a season-high four-game losing streak. The outstanding performance marked Schilling's first shutout since May 14, 2003 (as a member of the Diamondbacks), and first complete game since 2004.
The veteran righty needed the victory personally about as much as the Red Sox did as a team. Coming into the game, Schilling had just won just once in his previous five starts. But throwing a very efficient 100 pitches, Schilling struck out four and issued no walks in his complete-game shutout. With the win, Schilling improved to 6-2 and showed that on his best days he's still among the game's best.
It was just the kind of reminder that Schilling and the Red Sox needed. This season has been a bit of a mixed bag for old # 38. The 6-2 record looks good, but there have been some rough outings this year that have made Schilling look old. The 90 hits and 66 strike outs in 85 innings this season are below Schilling's high standards and very impressive career history.
At this late point in his storied career, Schilling may not be as consistent as he once was. But on days like this he reminds everyone of just how great he still is from time to time.
Schilling and his rotation-mates haven't been the club's concern in recent days.
In the three games against Oakland, the Red Sox have scored a grand total of three runs. Maybe it's the West Coast jet lag, but whatever it is the Sox bats have been sound asleep.
When the Red Sox finally get their potentially potent offense going, and start getting the kind of production they expect from Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp, and JD Drew, the best team in the American League may eventually reveal itself to be he best team in the world in 2007.
And Curt Schilling has been, and should continue to be, a big part of that success.
Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.