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3 rings, 2 bloody socks: Schilling's top moments

@IanMBrowne
January 21, 2020

BOSTON -- Curt Schilling fell short of entering the Hall of Fame on Tuesday -- receiving 70 percent of the vote in his eighth year of eligibility -- and now has two more years in which to be elected on the BBWAA ballot. But when you think of the right-hander,

BOSTON -- Curt Schilling fell short of entering the Hall of Fame on Tuesday -- receiving 70 percent of the vote in his eighth year of eligibility -- and now has two more years in which to be elected on the BBWAA ballot. But when you think of the right-hander, regardless of Hall status, what instantly comes to mind are the countless big-game performances in his illustrious career.

The big righty pitched in four World Series for three clubs -- the Phillies, D-backs and Red Sox -- and he was on the winning side three times.

When his team needed him most, Schilling pitched hurt (see: "Bloody Sock I" and "Bloody Sock II" below) -- and he pitched great. There were five starts in Schilling’s career when a loss would have sent his club home for the season. Instead, his team won all five.

There are many moments to remember. Here are 10 that stand out, in chronological order.

Taming Toronto: Oct. 21, 1993
In Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, the Phillies and Blue Jays staged a slugfest for the ages. With Toronto prevailing, 15-14, the Phillies were down, 3-1, in the Fall Classic. Fortunately, they had Schilling on tap for Game 5. Facing a lineup that included Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor as well as dangerous hitters Joe Carter and John Olerud, all Schilling did was fire a five-hit shutout that sent the series back to Toronto for Game 6. Though the Blue Jays won that epic on a walk-off series-clinching homer by Carter, Schilling’s heroic performance should not be forgotten.

Back-to-back against Maddux: April 5 and 10, 1998
In 1998, Greg Maddux was again brilliant, leading the Majors with a 2.22 ERA. Beating him at any point was tough. Schilling again proved his ability to rise to the biggest challenge when he outdueled the eventual Hall of Famer in two straight turns through the rotation. On April 5 in Atlanta, Schilling went the distance with 15 strikeouts in a 2-1 victory. Maddux countered with eight innings and two runs allowed in a game that took a brisk two hours and seven minutes. Five days later, the aces moved to Philadelphia, where Schilling fired a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts to win, 1-0. Mike Lieberthal ended the classic with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth. Maddux exited after eight innings.

Book-end NLDS gems: Oct. 9 and 14, 2001
After a frustrating eight-year wait between postseason appearances, Schilling made the most of his return to the big stage as a member of the D-backs. In Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals, he fired a complete-game three-hitter with nine strikeouts to outduel Matt Morris in a 1-0 classic. In Game 5, Schilling again went the distance, giving up one run to lead Arizona to a 2-1 win over Morris in the winner-take-all contest.

Game 7 for the ages: Nov. 4, 2001
This wasn’t the best postseason game Schilling pitched, but the stage was certainly the biggest. It was Game 7 against the mighty Yankees, who had won the World Series the three previous seasons. Facing Roger Clemens, Schilling went seven innings and allowed two runs. He worried that his performance had cost his team the World Series when he surrendered a go-ahead solo homer to Alfonso Soriano on an 0-2 pitch to open the eighth. But Randy Johnson came out of the bullpen and stifled the Yankees for 1 1/3 innings, and Arizona rallied against eventual Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera to win the World Series in the bottom of the ninth. Schilling, who started three games in a true Fall Classic, was named co-MVP of the World Series along with Johnson.

Pain in the neck -- for Brewers: April 7, 2002
Call this vintage Schilling moment a deep cut that is nonetheless a high point on his resume. The night before this Sunday afternoon start, Schilling’s neck had completely locked up. By 6 a.m., he could barely move his head to get out of his Milwaukee hotel room. Trainer Paul Lessard worked on Schilling until nearly an hour before the first pitch. Schilling found enough relief to fire a complete-game one-hitter that was accompanied by a career-high 17 strikeouts in an amazing 2-0 win over Ben Sheets.

Bloody Sock I: Oct. 19, 2004
One week after tearing the tendon in his right ankle and getting smoked by the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, Schilling somehow made it back to the mound for Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. It was remarkable that the Red Sox were even still playing, given they had trailed, 3-0, in the series. Schilling underwent an almost barbaric procedure in which his loose tendon was sutured back into place. By the early innings, he had blood pouring through his sock -- yet he was able to fire seven brilliant frames of one-run ball against the Yankees in a 4-2 conquest and force the series to Game 7 -- which the Sox won, of course.

Bloody Sock II: Oct. 24, 2004
Here we go again. This time, it was the World Series, and Schilling was on tap to pitch Game 2 against the Cardinals. To do so, he again had Dr. Bill Morgan suture the tendon in place. This time, Morgan created too much tension with the stitching and Schilling couldn’t walk when he woke up in the morning. Once Morgan figured out the problem, he fixed it right up and Schilling was good to go. With blood again staining his sock, Schilling stifled a heavy-hitting St. Louis lineup over six strong innings (one run, zero earned) and put the Red Sox just two wins away from their first World Series championship in 86 years.

Strikeout No. 3,000: Aug. 30, 2006
This start in Oakland was one of Schilling’s worst of the 2006 season. But it came with one of his most impressive milestones in the form of career strikeout No. 3,000 on a splitter against Nick Swisher. Schilling is one of just 18 pitchers in history to reach 3,000 strikeouts. The only members of that club not in the Hall of Fame are Clemens, Justin Verlander (still active) and CC Sabathia (just retired).

Staving off elimination again: Oct. 20, 2007
If there is one thing Schilling lights up about the most, it is the fact that his teams went 5-0 in the elimination games he started. He had one last hurrah in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Indians. With the Sox down in the series, 3-1, Josh Beckett sent the series back to Boston by stifling Cleveland in Game 5. Back at a raucous Fenway, Schilling did his thing, riding an early grand slam by J.D. Drew and pitching seven big innings (two runs) to a Boston victory. And yes, the Sox won Game 7 to get back to the World Series.

Last act -- another World Series win: Oct. 25, 2007
Considering Schilling’s history of heroics in October, how fitting was it that the final start of his career wound up being in the World Series? It's even more fitting that he won. By this time, Schilling’s fastball was in the mid 80s, but he maintained success due to his smarts and guile. Schilling held the Rockies to a run over 5 1/3 innings and Boston prevailed, 2-1, to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. They swept the Rockies and Schilling had a third World Series ring. In 19 postseason starts, he went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA. In seven World Series starts, he was 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.