The 2007 World Series got real for the Boston Red Sox in Game 2.
Boston jumped all over the Colorado Rockies in the series opener, blowing the game wide open in the late innings to capture the first win in what would be a sweep.
Things would be much more difficult in the second game of the Fall Classic.
In the final start of his legendary career, Curt Schilling did what he did best, which is turn in a tremendous playoff performance, while the Red Sox scraped just enough across and got an outstanding showing from the bullpen en route to a 2-1 win.
Tune in to NESN at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday to watch that game. Here are a few things you might have forgotten about Game 2.
1. What an end for Schilling
If he knew it at the time, he wasn’t saying it, but Game 2 of the 2007 World Series was the final start of Schilling’s career. He’d ultimately sign a one-year contract with the Sox for 2008, but a shoulder injury kept him out of action for that entire season, which is almost for the better. At the very least, it allowed the final on-field moment for Schilling to be him walking off the Fenway Park mound, tipping his cap to the fans. He wasn’t his dominant postseason self in Game 2, but he still gave the Red Sox 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one run. He got the win, going 3-0 in four postseason starts for the Sox in 2007. When it was all said and done, Schilling walked away as one of the greatest playoff pitchers of all time, posting an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA in 19 playoff starts for his career, numbers that should someday get him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
2. Lovin’ Lowell
After scoring 36 combined runs in their previous three games, the Boston offense disappeared against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies bullpen in Game 2. Yet, they still found a way to push just enough across, thanks to some heady base-running and clutch hitting. The first run came in the fourth inning on a Jason Varitek sacrifice fly, which was set up in part by eventual World Series MVP Mike Lowell. The veteran third baseman got on by way of a walk, and then he made a brilliant base-running decision when he was able to go from first to third on a JD Drew single to right field.
One inning later, Lowell was at it again, this time with the bat. With David Ortiz on second and two outs, Lowell had a chance to break the 1-1 tie in an undoubtedly pivotal at-bat in the game. He did just that when he smoked a double down the left-field line into the corner, allowing Ortiz to easily score. The double chased Jimenez from the game, with his five walks finally catching up to him.
3. More than OK
When Schilling’s night came to an end in the sixth inning, Terry Francona called on Hideki Okajima far earlier than the left-handed reliever typically had been used. Interestingly, Okajima came in to face the right-handed-hitting Garrett Atkins. Okajima, of course, had very good righty splits, limiting right-handed hitters to a .512 OPS during his impressive rookie season. With runners on first and second, Okajima did the job, getting Atkins to ground out before striking out Brad Hawpe in another game- and series-defining moment.
Okajima was just getting started, though. He needed just 11 pitches for a perfect seventh inning, and he then faced a pair of Rockies to lead off the eighth inning — Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui — and struck out both. Sensing the series might have been hanging in the balance, Francona called on closer Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save, ending Okajima’s night after 2 1/3 brilliant innings.
4. Holliday gift
Francona’s move to go to Papelbon looked a little dicey at first. Eventual 2007 National League MVP runner-up Matt Holliday greeted Papelbon with one of his four hits of the night, an absolute rocket back up the middle that almost removed the closer’s head on its way to center field. Remarkably, however, Papelbon was able to lock back in and was out of the inning before throwing another pitch.
He didn’t even have to make a pitch to Todd Helton, as the Red Sox pitcher picked off Holliday from first before anyone could even blink, ending the inning.
Unsurprisingly, the decision to throw over came from the Red Sox dugout, as bench coach Brad Mills had done his homework.
“I don’t want to divulge too much,” Varitek said after the game, “but it was a ‘throw over’ sign. Matt can (steal) some bags; he’s something like 11-for-15 … and so (Mills) read the situation right and got us an easy out.”
5. Slamming it shut
Papelbon then made it look easy in the ninth inning, striking out two of the three Rockies he faced to slam the door on a tight Game 2 win for Boston.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/Red Sox