Sox get Bronx broom treatment
By dropping three straight, AL East lead down to five games
NEW YORK -- Even at the age of 40, Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling still relishes the opportunity to play the role of stopper. A big-game pitcher throughout his career, Schilling again stepped up on Thursday afternoon against the Yankees. It just turns out that his fine effort wasn't quite enough.
Two mistakes -- both of which were put over the wall for solo homers by Robinson Cano -- were all it took for Schilling and the Red Sox to come up on the short end of a 5-0 loss. This is because Chien-Ming Wang was even better for the Yankees, holding the Red Sox hitless for six innings and allowing just one hit for the entirety of his seven innings.
Schilling is well beyond the stage where he has moral victories.
"We're trying to win ballgames," Schilling said. "In my mind, this was a big game today. And I got outpitched. That's disappointing."
By getting swept in this three-game series in the Bronx, Boston's lead over New York in the American League East has been cut to five games. The teams meet again at Fenway Park for a three-game series that starts on Sept. 14.
A statement series for the Yankees?
"It's whatever they make it," said Schilling, who limited the Yankees to six hits and two runs over seven innings. "And I said at the beginning of the series, neither team was going to let Sunday or Monday have any effect on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday -- and it didn't. We both came in here and played the exact opposite of how we did coming into the series."
"I think they outplayed us," continued Schilling. "I don't want to take anything away from them, they definitely outplayed us. But we didn't play well and they did. The series is over. We have a game [Friday] and that's where we have to be."
Whether it is the loss of star cleanup man Manny Ramirez (strained left oblique) or simply running into hot Yankees pitchers, the Boston bats came up dry throughout this series. After scoring 46 runs in four games at Chicago, the Red Sox produced just six runs in New York.
"We, plain and simple, didn't swing the bats," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "We pitched the ball pretty decent. We just didn't swing the bats. They had a couple of big hits at the right times."
It is uncertain just how long the Red Sox will be without the services of Ramirez, who sprayed a homer to right in the opener of this series before getting injured two at-bats later.
"Manny started off with a bang," said Varitek. "You can't replace him in the lineup. When he's out, we have to do a lot of little things."
For Schilling, two pitches -- which were deposited for solo homers by Cano in the third and fifth innings -- ruined his whole day.
"[The first homer came on a first-pitch] fastball that was supposed to be down and away and it was belt middle, and [the second homer] was a hanging split," said Schilling.
With Wang positively stifling the Red Sox, those long balls proved to be all the difference.
The Red Sox snapped the right-hander's no-hit bid when Mike Lowell rifled a single to right with one out in the seventh. Perhaps Wang's momentum was altered when Kevin Youkilis opened the inning by reaching on a Derek Jeter throwing error. J.D. Drew then tapped a grounder to third that wound up sparking controversy. Alex Rodriguez missed the tag on Youkilis and then narrowly threw Drew out at first.
Though Youkilis appeared to be out of the baseline, the umpires initially called him safe. After an argument by Yankees manager Joe Torre, the call was overturned. Red Sox manager Terry Francona was not pleased with the reversal and was ejected by crew chief Derryl Cousins. Varitek struck out to end the first rally the Red Sox had all day.
"I know it's a judgment call," said Francona. "What kind of upset me was I thought [second-base umpire] Derryl Cousins, it was his call and he got a good look. In his judgment, Youk was OK. So to get overturned by somebody with as not as good a view was frustrating. I do know it's a judgment call. I just thought the guy that had the best view, they didn't end up using his judgment."
Cousins discussed the matter with a pool reporter.
"On the play, we had a little lack of communication," Cousins said. "I had a safe call for no tag. [Third-base umpire Mark] Carlson was making [his] call on out of the baseline. We just had to get together to make sure we had it right. Basically, I think Francona wanted to get run there. He just persisted in the discussion long after it was finished and we had explained the call."
The always-intense Youkilis was no less miffed than his manager.
"I tried to play the game hard and I tried to go around him, and it didn't work that time," said Youkilis. "In my mind, it wasn't initially called. I think I was in the baseline when the tag was put down. There's some rule that's out there, whatever, blah, blah, blah. That's one of those things in baseball that never gets clearly identified as what is the exact rule. I think it's more of a judgment call. I guess they all came together and decided I was out."
For Youkilis, it was just the beginning of his controversial afternoon. In the ninth inning, rookie Yankees flame-thrower Joba Chamberlain threw a pair of upper-90s offerings just above his batting helmet. After the second heater got away, Chamberlain was promptly ejected.
"I was up in the office," said Francona. "If that young man is trying to get our attention, he did a very good job. You can't read somebody else's mind. You'd be better served to ask him."
Chamberlain said it was an accident.
"I'm new to this whole game," Chamberlain said. "I want to be aggressive and competitive, but not with a negative connotation. I have more respect for the game than that."
Youkilis, who was hit in the head by Scott Proctor (then a Yankee) on June 1 at Fenway Park, was left to wonder why New York pitchers seem to have such poor aim when he's at the plate.
"It is what it is," Youkilis said. "You know, two balls going over somebody's head at 98 mph, I don't know. I didn't see any other pitches going that far out of the strike zone. Those balls were pretty close to the head. There were a couple of nods here and there. Who knows what it really meant. Ask him what his intent was. He's going to probably tell you he didn't mean to throw those. It's one of those things where only one person, or maybe a couple people on their team know."
If anything, the next Red Sox-Yankees series will have a subplot going in. Doesn't it always?
"There's another series," said Youkilis. "For us, it's another series where we're going to play hard and you never know what happens. You never know what the lead is going to be. Hopefully we get the lead up there and it will be interesting to see how it plays out."
Just as he said when the Red Sox led the Yankees by 14 1/2 games back in May, Francona chose to look beyond the numbers.
"I think we need to show up and play baseball like we always do, and when the season is over, whatever our record is, that's where we'll be," Francona said. "Whatever the Yankees are, that's where they'll be."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.