April 29, 2004

Schilling, Varitek Deep Six Devil Rays. Excellent outing for Curt Schilling last night. His worst inning was the first, when he allowed two one-out singles. However, Schilling got Robert Fick to pop up and struck out Tino Martinez. Schilling was able to throw his fastball and slider to both sides of the plate and he had his curveball and splitter working. He said it was his best outing of the year. There were at least four pitches in the first few innings that looked like strikes, but were called balls. Schilling seemed to have struck out Carl Crawford in the first, Toby Hall in the second and Martinez in the fourth. Nothing disastrous happened -- Crawford flied to center, Hall singled (but was stranded) and Martinez ended up striking out anyway -- but it did force Schilling to throw more pitches. His last pitch of the night -- #106 -- was clocked at 97 mph.

Jason Varitek broke an 0-17 string with a long two-run home run over the bullpens in the 4th inning. He also singled home a run in the 7th. ... In a related story, Derek Jeter is now 0 for his last 32; he has gone 8 days without a hit. ... NESN continues its tradition of running too many commercials and causing fans to miss pitches. Last year, they missed a Manny home run during one game because Ramirez pounded the first pitch over the Wall. Last night, NESN failed to show the first pitches in Boston half of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th innings. There is no excuse for this.

Boston's Alan Embree and Lenny Dinardo extended the bullpen's scoreless streak to 26.1 innings. The Red Sox starters have not allowed a run in the past 23 innings, going back to the seventh inning on Saturday. ... The only first inning run Boston has allowed was by Pedro against the Orioles on April 15. ... Tony Massarotti: "After winning only nine times last season in games during which they scored four runs or fewer, the Sox already have won six such games this year. In their 13 wins, Sox pitchers have a 1.68 ERA." ... The Red Sox recorded consecutive shutouts for the first time since May 17 and 19, 2000.

Also: Nomar Garciaparra did some light running in the outfield Wednesday. ... David Ortiz doubled, giving him at least one extra-base hit in eight consecutive games. ... Schilling's eight strikeouts gave him 2,581, tying Bob Feller for 21st place; he is two behind Warren Spahn for 20th place.

John Harper, New York Daily News: "Convinced that Contreras was somehow tipping his pitches the first time, Stottlemyre had him alter his windup for the second start. It turned out he may have had the right diagnosis but the wrong cure. At least that's how Jeff Brantley, the former pitcher and now ESPN analyst, saw it. On ESPN's Baseball Tonight, Brantley showed via videotape how Contreras was holding his hands in different positions while in the stretch, depending whether he was throwing a fastball or a curve.

"Working last night's game at the Stadium for ESPN, Brantley said he had no doubt it was a factor in the Sox beating up on Contreras in the two starts. 'They knew what he was throwing,' Brantley said. 'I knew that for sure when I saw (Kevin) Millar swing at a first-pitch curveball, a bad one that he missed, and then he stepped out of the box and had this little smile on his face. Then he got another curveball and hit it out of the ballpark. I wasn't surprised. It wasn't hard to see what Contreras was doing.'"

Byung-Hyun Kim reminds us that he is starting the first game today -- at 1:05 pm. To make room on the roster, Phil Seibel was optioned to Portland. ... Derek Lowe will pitch the 7:05 nightcap.

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