|Curt Schilling walks into the dugout to a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd. Schilling gets my standing 'O' for good.
With Yankees in the batting box and an important three-game series kicking off that could sway the American League East, he hit his spots with each pitch. The splitter darted down out of the zone and the fastball made the Bronx Bombers chase, no matter where it was placed.
His weapon of choice was both the splitter and the fastball, but he had enough confidence to throw his curveball on many occasions, freezing batters each time he broke it off. He located it on the corners and didn't hang anything out over the plate for easy pickings.
His velocity was constant, another big reason for his great performance against the Yankees. Schilling was hitting 91 on the gun and even late was up in the high 80s low 90s range. With his splitter diving and fastball hitting the corners, the consistent low-90s helped his performance.
Control was his friend Monday night. He walked none and struck out six in eight innings of work that allowed only one early run to cross the plate. And even through the 2004 post-season, this was one of Schilling's best games in a Red Sox uniform.
If there was still a doubt in your mind, Curt Schilling is as healthy as a horse (well, not Barbaro) and I don't think anyone should be worried about him running off the mound to field a bunt. He's in prime form, and as long as his stuff is working, he'll be the familiar Schilling we all know and love.
Last year really put a doubt in my mind about Schilling -- I think it put a doubt into every Sox fan's mind. This year, however, we're seeing that Schilling is still one of the best pitchers in the game. He's showing the world that you don't need to be 23-years-old to get the job done day in and day out.
After spending the last two and a half years watching Schilling pitch, I've learned that Schilling is of a rare breed. He does things other pitchers would deem crazy - like updating a notebook between innings on hitters he faces - but that is what makes him great. He works hard at his craft, even at 39-years-old.
The man is not only of a rare breed, he's of a dying breed.
Show me Jake Peavy. Show me Johan Santana. Show me Scott Kazmir. But on any given day, this 39-year-old can go out and dominate whoever steps in the batters box opposite him. He may not have the 95-MPH fastball any more, but he works with what he's got, and what he's got is still damn good.