"I'd like to be able to say that this is just another start, but that's not really the truth. Let's just say I'm anxious, not nervous," said -- Schilling.
Schilling (16-7), a former Orioles reliever, has rapidly moved near the head of the class of NL pitchers in his second year as a starter, and he gives the credit to pitching coach Johnny Podres.
"He looks at you as more than just a pitcher. He treats you as a person and cares about you," said Schilling. "He stressed my mechanics, making sure I do the same thing and not deviate from my motion. After every inning when I come in, we talk. I really don't know where I'd be without him."
Schilling, who was dealt to the Houston Astros after the 1990 season as a part of the Glenn Davis trade, came to Philadelphia before last season and has won 30 games in the past two years.
His lone regret is that his late father will not be able to see him.
"I think I'll leave a seat for him in my block of tickets. He'll be with me in spirit," said Schilling. "[Tonight] is something we dreamed about for a long time. It just doesn't feel right that he won't be here with me."
Nicks and pains
Philadelphia's Darren Daulton has played in 147 games, a significant number for a catcher, given the wear and tear of the position.
"I don't think there's a part of my body that doesn't hurt," said Daulton. "There was a stretch of the year where I caught 27 games in a row. But even with all the problems, I don't think there's any catcher who would trade places with any other position player on the field."
Atlanta Braves shortstop Jeff Blauser did not work out, staying at the team hotel because of an undisclosed illness. Left fielder Ron Gant suffered a back spasm during batting practice, but both are expected to play tonight.
Looking for the crime dog
Though Fred McGriff wasn't seen in the interview room yesterday, hispresence was felt and discussed by the Braves.
McGriff, who was traded to the Braves from the San Diego Padres just after the All-Star break, helped ignite Atlanta's torrid second half.
"We were playing pretty darn good before we got Freddie, and we've been playing great since we got Freddie," said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox. "He gave us that feeling like we were going to win every night."
McGriff, who hit 37 homers with 101 RBI and a batting average of .291, replaced David Justice in the cleanup slot.
"Let's put it this way -- it's a two-way street," said Justice. "Freddie's a great offensive player who's meant a lot to our team. But we've helped him, too. His numbers for us are much better than his numbers with the Padres. I don't think he would have had as many homers or RBI if Ronnie Gant wasn't hitting before him or me after him."
NL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Gm. ... Date ..... Site ..... Time
1 .... Today ..... Phil. .... 8:12
2 .... Tomorrow .. Phil. .... 8:12
3 .... Saturday .. Atl. ..... 3
4 ..... Sunday ... Atl. ..... 8:29
5* .... Monday ... Atl. ..... 3:07
6* .... Oct. 13 .. Phil. .... 3:07
....... ........ ..or 8:12
7* .... Oct. 14 .. Phil. .... 8:12
TV: All games on chs. 11, 9