Schilling clips O's wings, 4-1, in Sox debut

O's Opening Night high fades quickly as Red Sox quiet bats

DuBose walks 6

`Uecker pitch' aids 2-run second

Schilling just a reminder of pitching-rich AL East

Matos drives in lone run

April 07, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons tried to find the bright side yesterday after watching Curt Schilling drain most of the excitement generated in this city with the Opening Night victory over Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox.

Martinez is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, and even on an off-night Sunday, he wasn't terrible.

Schilling is a five-time All-Star who held the Orioles to one run over six innings, as the Red Sox appeased their angst-ridden fan base with a 4-1 victory before 35,355 at Camden Yards.

"Those guys are pretty good," Gibbons said, after striking out in his final three at-bats. "And the only good thing is, it's going to get a lot easier from here."

But if the Red Sox did anything yesterday, other than remind Orioles starter Eric DuBose that he's a control pitcher who has to throw strikes to win, they reminded everyone how tough the pitching figures to be in the American League East.

Including tonight's starter, Derek Lowe, Boston has three legitimate Cy Young candidates in its rotation. The New York Yankees can add three to that list with Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. And the Toronto Blue Jays have the reigning Cy Young winner in Roy Halladay.

So the Orioles will face no fewer than seven pitchers of this caliber just within the AL East, where teams play each other 19 times. That's a lot of potential frustration.

Outings like this one from DuBose - 5 1/3 innings, a career-high six walks and one "Bob Uecker pitch," as manager Lee Mazzilli called it - probably won't cut it.

Last season, when DuBose was making an impression that helped him land the No. 2 starter's role this season, he went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three games against Boston, spanning 12 innings.

This time, the key sequence came in the second inning, which started with DuBose issuing a five-pitch walk to Manny Ramirez. After a single by David Ortiz, the Red Sox had runners at the corners with one out when DuBose had a moment for the blooper reel.

With a 0-2 count to Jason Varitek, his cleat got caught on the mound during his delivery, and he fired an awkward pitch all the way to the backstop, a good 15 feet off-target - or, in Uecker speak, "just a bit outside."

DuBose nearly fell face first. "I thought I was a goner there for a second," he said.

Ramirez scored, Millar advanced to second, and Varitek made it 2-0 when he lined DuBose's next pitch for a run-scoring single to center field.

Told that his wild pitch was probably destined for SportsCenter, DuBose said, "I figured there's only two ways I can make it: falling down or giving up a home run. I may make it twice today."

The other lowlight came in the fourth, when Kevin Millar turned on another off-speed pitch from DuBose and drilled it into the left-field seats for a 3-0 lead.

"I was behind in the count [several times]," DuBose said. "Against this team, with Schilling on the other side, there's really not a lot of margin for error, and I didn't have my best stuff."

The 37-year-old Schilling provided the 27-year-old DuBose with a clinic, throwing first-pitch strikes to the first 10 batters he faced.

For the game, Schilling allowed six hits, and DuBose allowed four.

But Schilling only surrendered one walk.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein went and had Thanksgiving dinner at Schilling's Phoenix home this offseason and convinced him to waive his no-trade clause from the Arizona Diamondbacks for this very reason.

Now, if Martinez doesn't get you, there's still a good chance Schilling will.

"On any good staff, you have guys who can do that," said Schilling, the one-time Oriole who improved to 2-3 for his career against his former team. "On the rare occasion that Petey [Martinez] might get a loss, that's my job."

The Orioles had chances against Schilling, even if they were scarce. With one out in the second inning, Javy Lopez and Gibbons hit soft singles, but B.J. Surhoff killed the rally by grounding into a double play.

Schilling finished with seven strikeouts, including Gibbons to end the fourth with Rafael Palmeiro on second base. The Orioles got their lone run when Luis Matos doubled into the left-center-field gap in the fifth inning, scoring Larry Bigbie from first base.

But they needed more that inning and didn't get it, as Brian Roberts flied out to left field, and Melvin Mora flied out to center.

Schilling left after six innings, and the Red Sox bullpen turned in three innings of perfect relief. Keith Foulke came on for the ninth and earned his first save as the Boston closer.

After winning, 7-2, on Sunday, the Orioles were brought back to reality by Schilling.

"Pedro made a couple mistakes," Gibbons said. "But Schilling was pretty sharp."

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