Game 2 advance; emphasis on starting pitchers.
Nobody ever accused him of being a rocket scientist -- OK, so a few people have -- but there's also no doubt that Curt Schilling is one of the most studious people in baseball. On days in between starts, Schilling devours video and scouting reports until his eyes turn red, so one can only imagine how what he's gone through this week. As he prepares for his start against the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday, Schilling has some personal files that could suit him well. Whatever he consulted prior to his June 13 start against them didn't help a bit. In that game, the Sox right-hander lasted only five-plus innings, giving up nine hits and six runs (five earned), including the Brad Hawpe three-run home run that led to nine straight runs by the 12-2 winners. It wasn't pretty. Schilling's explanation was simple. "They're good," he said Wednesday. "I mean, they were good. I would like to think it was a combination of not throwing well, not executing well, but that's a good team. They were a good team then and they swung the bats well then. "I've been watching that game and I certainly didn't command the ball well at all, but it's a pretty good offensive team. It's one of the few teams I think we've played over the last couple of years in the National League that was structured more offensively like an American League team with a lot of guys swinging the bats. And some guys as the season went on (started) coming into their own. The game I pitched, the change-up for the home run was kind of the back breaker. But that game, that series, I mean, in most senses has no effect on this series, other than maybe for them to get to know us a little bit and us to get to know them." Schilling faced Josh Fogg, who'll start Game 3 of the World Series, that night, and will go against rookie Ubaldo Jimenez this time around. Schilling has faced the Rockies 26 times in his career, going 11-6, 4.44, so he has the track record, but this is a different Colorado team-and this is certainly a different Schilling, who after physical problems from 2004-06 has had to completely alter his throwing style, going from power to finesse, and suffering the growing pains that go along with it. "Well, the frustrating part of it is gone," said the veteran. "That was part of getting to the point of using the stuff effectively, getting past the frustrating part of it, accepting the fact that I'll go out and get loose and whatever it is, it is, and whatever I have has to work. "You know, I think what it really has done is placed a lot more emphasis on the preparation aspect of it, and the amount of time and effort I have to put into watching video and going through the scouting reports, whereas before it might have been I'm not comfortable doing 'X' or 'Y,' I can throw my fastball here. Now it's having to find multiple ways to do things to different hitters, for a Todd Helton, for example, that I faced literally 80, 90 times." Actually, the Rockies first baseman has 59 plate appearances against Schilling, but he's also batted .333 against him, with five home runs and 11 RBI. Helton went 0-for-2 with a walk against Schilling in June, but when Schilling was relieved after loading the bases, the next batter-Helton-hit a bases-clearing double. "I'm a very different pitcher now," Schilling said. "He's a different hitter, but not that different. So whereas I used to be able to exploit with one pitch exclusively, now I've got to be able to use multiple pitches in different spots. I mean, the frustrating part of it went away during the second half, and now it really has become a matter of more preparation and more effort in the pregame stuff." "His preparation has always been off the charts," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I've been with a lot of teams, but I haven't been with every team, so I can't comment on every pitcher. But Schill's preparation has always been phenomenal. That has never changed or wavered. If anything it's probably gotten better." One pitcher Francona could comment on was Jimenez. "He's got a good arm," he said. "Good stuff. Electric. You can prepare as much as you can prepare, but until you see a guy in a batter's box, there's something to be said for that." The only Red Sock who's ever faced Jimenez is Julio Lugo, who's 1-for-1 against him. "Jimenez is -- that stuff will be electric," said manager Clint Hurdle. "That's the kind of stuff that every once in a while you step back and you go, wow, that's special. He's shown some special poise for a young pitcher. And he's got good stuff. Any time you get a swing and miss pitch against a good offensive club and you're playing in a small park, that's important." As for Schilling, this is the most important start of his career for many reasons, not the least of which could be the fact that it could be the last in a Red Sox uniform. "I've thought about it," said the upcoming free agent. "I've had a couple starts now where it could have been my last one. It's not something beyond the initial disappointment of the possibility. I haven't really thought about it in depth. I'm playing in my fourth World Series and second as a Boston Red Sox, so I certainly have nothing to be upset about or regretful for." The Patriot Ledger