Series gets back to basics, and Schilling


PHILADELPHIA -- Aw, no fair. Pitchers duel, boo. What fun is that?

Routine outs, good defense, double plays, even. Not to mention dry weather and games ending before midnight.

World Series baseball the way it was meant to be played instead of the Bad News Bears meet Abbott and Costello. How anticlimactic. Boring. How dull.

Unless you are a Phillies fan, that is. Unless you were standing in front of your seat in the ninth inning last night when Curt Schilling was blowing away the heart of Toronto's batting order. Unless you were there when Schilling was giving the Phillies the two things they needed most at Veterans Stadium last night.

No. 1, of course, was the victory. Without the 2-0 beauty he pitched, the world championship trophy would presently be making its way through customs for the second straight year.

And No. 2 was a complete game. Something, anything, to keep Phillies fans from hearing those most terrifying of all possible words: Now warming up in the bullpen, Mitch Williams.

But the bullpen door stayed closed and the Phillies stayed alive in the Series.

"That was my atom bomb right there," Schilling said after holding a Toronto lineup that had pummeled Philadelphia pitching for 18 hits in its 15-14 victory Wednesday night to five singles. "I gave it everything I had."

Schilling, who was perfectly dreadful in the Phillies' 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays in the Series opener, said he felt he owed his teammates the redemption he achieved but he insisted he felt no pressure.

"We're 10 games into a season we're not even supposed to be in," he said. "This club is less stressed than any club I've been on."

If there is any need to prove the truth of this, consider catcher Darren Daulton's words to Schilling before the game.

"I told him do the best you can, keep them under 15," Daulton said. "I didn't want him to feel like all the weight in the world was on his shoulders. Even though it was."

In the last few innings, the weight of all the pitches Schilling had been throwing was upon him, too.

"I was running out of gas in the seventh," Schilling said. "Any time Darren comes out and says we're going to have to use some mirrors to get the last couple outs, I know I'm in trouble."

"You're not going to pitch until next year," Daulton said. "Give me a couple more innings."

But when Schilling gave up two Toronto singles leading off the eighth, he wasn't sure he would be able to comply with Daulton's request.

"I assumed I would probably be out with first and third and nobody out," Schilling said. "I kind of glanced at the bullpen to see who was up and nobody was. That pumped me up. Darren came out and said, 'We'll give up a run for an out,' and I thought I didn't want to give up a run for two outs. I wanted a strikeout in that situation."

He got something even better. First, Schilling made Rickey Henderson ground back to the mound on his best fastball -- Schilling knocked the ball down and threw home to trap the lead runner -- and then he struck out Devon White on "one of the best back-door sliders I ever threw."

Next came Roberto Alomar, who has been murdering Phillies pitching throughout the Series, and the fans were on their feet.

"They got me to where I wanted to strike him out," Schilling said. "I wanted to see just what they would have done if I'd struck him out."

He settled instead for a grounder to second and three Toronto outs later the fans were up one last time, cheering the victory that had kept the season alive.

In a reflective mood after the game, Schilling spoke of two men whose absence from this celebration he keenly missed.

One was his father, a career military man who died in 1988. "I would have liked to see his face tonight," Schilling said. "He was hard to impress."

The other was the late Don Drysdale, who interviewed him at Dodger Stadium in April after he pitched his last complete-game shutout before last night.

"He sat me down for about an hour and talked to me," Schilling said. "He said he liked the way I pitched. It meant a lot to me and I took what he said to heart. When I was a young kid, to have a professional ballplayer come up and talk to me, it was a thrill. I never forgot that."

Schilling gave Phillies' fans something they may remember long into the winter, too. He gave them a reason to hope the World Series may not be over just yet.

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