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Schilling's stuff of legend

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Oct. 9
Diamondbacks 1, Cardinals 0
They come along, two or three to a generation, and they transcend pitch counts and left/right matchups. Luis Tiant was one, throwing 173 pitches in Game 4 of the '75 World Series, holding a 5-4 lead with two on and less than two outs the last five innings and never allowing the tying run to score.

Or Jack Morris, Game 7 of the '91 series. Ten innings, 1-0.

And Curt Schilling, who was last seen on the October stage in 1993 when he had to shut out the Blue Jays after his teammates had lost 15-14 the night before to send the World Series back to Toronto.

When Tony La Russa intentionally walked Damian Miller with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the eighth to try to force Bob Brenly's hand, Brenly never bit. He allowed Schill to hit and make an out because he wanted Schilling on the mound in the ninth inning of a one-run game that could be the fulcrum of a great series.


Because Curt Schilling is one of those two or three guys of this generation.

Indians 5, Mariners 0
If indeed there is more postseason pressure on the Seattle Mariners because they are constantly reminded that anything less than the World Series would somehow diminish their historic season, then it is also probably true that their worst nightmare was to face the Cleveland Indians in a five-game series.

The Indians have nothing to lose. They have more proven, star-quality veterans than any team except the Yankees and they don't have to start anyone other than Bartolo Colon, Chuck Finley and C.C. Sabathia because of the way the series is set up.

Welcome to the Indians.

Colon was absolutely brilliant in Tuesday's 5-0 win over Seattle, running his fastball between 97 and 100 mph with command. Experience? When Ichiro led off the first with a hit, Colon slide-stepped, then pitched out and held Ichiro at first.

In the third inning, with the game still scoreless, Ichiro led off with another hit. The Indians pitched out on a hit-and-run -- someone got the sign -- and Robby Alomar executed the rundown perfectly. Freddy Garcia pitched well enough to win on most days, but when Alomar, for whom the postseason is the stage, led off the fourth with a double, he led a put-it-in-play three-run rally.

Understand what makes the Tribe so tough: If they can put the ball in play, they can create havoc, with Alomar as the ringleader. So if Colon, Finley and Sabathia -- 17-7 and not AL Rookie of the Year? -- pitch well, they can beat anyone in a five-game series ... if John Rocker were ever to get hot for three weeks.

Braves 7, Astros 4
When you play for the Houston Astros and you garner such respect through the game and yet carry a history of postseason frustration that winds six series all the way back to 1980, these things keep happening. A 3-2 lead, a Marcus Giles carver on which Craig Biggio got a poor jump, and a Julio Lugo error ...

But the Astros are playing the Braves and have to deal with the great Chipper Jones. When Billy Wagner came in following the blown double-play ball, he had to pitch to Chipper, something that doesn't happen a lot. In one 15-game stretch in September, Jones had just one RBI -- on his own homer -- because teammates weren't on base. If they were, he was walked. After Sept. 1, Jones came up 13 times with runners in scoring position -- five walks, a hit-by-pitch and four hits in the remaining seven at-bats. In this at-bat, they had to pitch him.

So when Wagner came in and started him off with a scene-setting 97 mph fastball, Chipper was looking for something on the inner half that he could put in the air. He opened his hips as Wagner let go of the pitch and hammered the fastball into the left-field stands for the three-run homer.

Oh, yes. In case you're wondering about his old left-handed vs. right-handed thing, here are Chipper's 1999-2000-2001 figures -- right-handed: 352, .415, .376 batting average; 1.189, 1.250, 1.141 OPS.

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Gammons: column archive

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Curt Schilling explains why he loves this time of the year.
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 Dan Patrick Show
Curt Schilling talks about his approach to playoff games.
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