Papi, Schilling lift Sox to sweep
Team runs on all cylinders in twin bill trouncing of White Sox
CHICAGO -- In a Friday morning chat with reporters, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was by no means dwelling on the fact that offense hasn't been a strength for the 2007 Red Sox. The truth of the matter is, Francona noted, his team has found ways to win and he'd rather be overly reliant on pitching than offense.
"I don't think we've ever gotten into a consistent role where we've just beaten the ball all over the ballpark," said Francona.
Naturally, the Red Sox would then go out and spend the next 18 innings doing just that.
After ace Josh Beckett and the bats lifted Boston to an 11-3 victory over the White Sox in Game 1 of a doubleheader, Curt Schilling and the bats paved the way for an equally explosive 10-1 triumph in the nightcap.
A long day was made shorter by baseballs flying into the gaps and over walls.
"It's a long day, but it was a good day," Francona said. "If we're going to be here from morning till night ... It ends up being a good day. Especially when you come to the ballpark thinking hopefully play one and you think you're in for a longer day than maybe normal and you end up playing two and winning it, it's a pretty good day."
Friday represented the first time the Red Sox have scored at least 10 runs in both games of a doubleheader since June 23, 1957, against the Kansas City A's.
David Ortiz (4-for-5, three runs scored, three RBIs) backed Schilling with a pair of homers -- numbers 22 and 23 -- and Kevin Youkilis belted his first long ball since Aug. 6.
"We need to try to save some for New York," quipped Ortiz, referring to next week's three-game showdown in the Bronx.
As enjoyable as the marathon day was for the Red Sox, the White Sox didn't experience a whole lot of joy.
"Twelve hours of my life I wasted and I'm never going to get it back," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "Tough day for everyone. I think that's one of the reasons they're in first place and we're in last place. They hit better than we did, they pitched better than we did. We couldn't put anything together today."
Not to be lost amid the offensive outbreak was that Schilling, making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, turned in a gem of an outing. The big right-hander limited the White Sox to three hits and a run over six innings, improving his record to 8-5 and lowering his ERA to 4.11. Over 101 pitches, Schilling walked one and struck out three.
"I stayed out of the middle of the plate more than anything," said Schilling. "I wanted to command both sides of the plate and mix it up."
Kevin Cash, who caught Schilling for the first time, thought the veteran did just that.
"I thought he was great from the bullpen. His bullpen was great," Cash said. "He came out, left one pitch out over the plate basically. After that, he was dotting fastballs wherever he wanted to go with it. He was vintage schilling for sure."
Schilling and the offense represent X factors of sorts for the Red Sox entering crunch time. The Red Sox have been in first place since April 18 without either of those elements cranking on all cylinders.
Perhaps the events of Friday signified that the 78-51 Red Sox, who already own the best record in Major League Baseball, are about to put it into high gear.
"I think we're starting a nice little push," said Schilling. "I think everybody is doing their thing and it's a good atmosphere here."
The White Sox took an ever so brief lead against Schilling in the bottom of the second on a solo homer by Juan Uribe.
But Ortiz got all of one in the fourth, unloading for a two-run homer to right that put Boston in front for good. Mike Lowell and Coco Crisp both had RBI doubles and Cash slammed an RBI single to complete the five-run rally that put Schilling in a comfort zone for the rest of the night.
"I thought he got a little tired last inning but I thought he commanded his fastball, I thought he got in a rhythm and didn't try to overthrow and really located and threw his cutter pretty effectively," Francona said.
As an added bonus, Francona didn't need to use closer Jonathan Papelbon in either game. Manny Delcarmen, Kyle Snyder and Eric Gagne finished it off with three scoreless innings.
"This is like the last rodeo. We have to try to win as many games as we can," Ortiz said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.