Schilling doesn't have best stuff in loss
Crisp hits two homers among four hits, but Sox fall in opener
ATLANTA -- There Curt Schilling was on the Turner Field mound Monday night, just powerless. For one of the great power pitchers of the last decade and change, this was the oddest of sights.
As Schilling walked off the mound with one out in the fifth inning en route to an eventual 9-4 loss, he did so with a goose egg in the strikeout department.
How rare was that? His last start without a strikeout was July 1, 1993 -- some 348 starts ago -- when, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Schilling lasted just 2 2/3 innings at St. Louis.
No life on the fastball?
"That's an understatement, I think," said Schilling.
The radar gun readings at Turner Field showed all but one of Schilling's 81 pitches below 90 mph.
The Braves noticed.
"It was down tonight," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said of Schilling's velocity. "It's kind of like a golfer -- whatever you have on the range, you take it out to the course."
In golf terms, this start was like a triple bogey for Schilling.
Schilling, who came one pitch from a no-hitter just 11 days ago, is fourth among active pitchers in strikeouts. The right-hander was belted around for 10 hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings. Schilling's ERA rose to 4.20, the highest it's been since April 14.
"Yeah, that's embarrassing," Schilling said. "I never gave us a chance. You want to walk around the room and apologize to everybody. Your manager, your teammates and fans. There's just no excuse for a game like that to play out the way it did. It just happened."
But why did it happen? Schilling was asked point blank if he's healthy.
"There's no one thing right now," Schilling said. "Like I said, it's not any one thing. I struggled and these last two starts have been just terrible. I'm better than that, and it's frustrating."
In the two starts since the one-hitter on June 7, Schilling is 0-2 with a 10.61 ERA. He's given up 19 hits over 10 1/3 innings.
"What I'm doing is not working," Schilling said. "It's a combination of a lot of different things. To pinpoint one thing would probably be wrong. It's more than just any one thing. Above all else, it's execution. I'm just not executing."
Power came from an unexpected source for the Red Sox in this one, as Coco Crisp belted a pair of solo homers, both from the right side. For Crisp, who entered the night with just one long ball in 227 at-bats, it was the first multi-homer gave of his career. He singled in the eighth to finish 4-for-4.
"Those were some good swings," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "The ball came off his bat with some authority. He's been working hard. He really has been working hard with [hitting coach Dave Magadan]."
J.D. Drew added a solo shot in the seventh. However, the Boston bats didn't manufacture much else.
With the teams tied at 1, the Braves went ahead for good in the fourth. Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones led off with singles, setting up Brian McCann for an RBI single to left-center. With two outs and the pitcher set to hit next, Schilling issued an intentional walk to Scott Thorman. The move backfired when Chuck James blooped in a single to left, driving in a run to make it 3-1.
"[With] second and third, two outs, we never want to give up hits," Francona said. "But if Thorman gets a hit there with the pitcher on deck, I'm kicking myself. When the pitcher gives up a hit, obviously I'm not happy because the results weren't what we were looking for. But I thought that was the right thing to do."
The inning nearly got really ugly for the Sox as Kelly Johnson ripped Schilling's 90-mph heater to deep center. However, Crisp flagged it down just in front of the wall to end the inning.
There would be no such luck in the fifth, as the Braves delivered Schilling a sound knockout punch. Renteria got it started with a one-out single to center. Jones followed with a single to right. And then came the big blow, as McCann walloped a three-run homer to center on Schilling's last pitch of the night.
The pitch that put the game out of reach? A slider that didn't slide.
"It was supposed to be a slider down and in, and it was a ball that just backed up belt high, middle," Schilling said.
Aside from the issue of the subpar velocity, Francona felt that Schilling's secondary pitches ran together.
"I'm not pitching well," Schilling said. "That's what chisels away at your confidence, when you [stink]. That's what's happening. Like I said earlier, I didn't even give us a chance."
"Schilling is a perfectionist," said Jones. "As opponents, media members and fans, [we all] expect so much out him because he's always pitched at such a high level. An outing like this one is definitely uncharacteristic."
Schilling and the Red Sox just hope that no re-runs are in store.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.