Todd Porter: No doom and gloom for these Indians
Muddy rainwater formed puddles on the plain white tarp that covers the infield at Fenway Park.
Perfectly eerie gloom-and-doom skies greeted the Indians when their plane touched down Friday afternoon at Logan International Airport.
The sun? It always seems to shine on Eric Wedge. The Indians manager came dressed in slacks and a sports coat for a news conference. His slicked back hair and three-day facial growth made him look like a man that walked off the set of a John Wayne movie.
“We’re fine,” Wedge said of his team’s mood after losing in their first attempt to close out Boston. “We just had an off night (Thursday). Boston took advantage of some opportunities. It’s one game. It’s over. You should not expect to win four in a row in this type of series.”
The Indians and Red Sox resume their American League Championship Series tonight. Two nights ago, Casey Blake sat at his locker after Josh Beckett put the Tribe in their place and talked about how momentum doesn’t exist in baseball.
“It’s such a long season,” Blake said. “And we have an off day (Friday), and we had a day off (Wednesday) before that. I don’t think there is any such thing as momentum in baseball.”
Funny, because it sure seems to exist in Boston. The blank stares usually found on TSA security inspectors at Logan showed life. An airport greeter taped up a sign that read, “Let’s Go Red Sox. We Believe!”
The Sox are throwing their hopes, and their season, on the right arm of 40-year-old Curt Schilling. He’ll bring his own karma. In Game 6 in 2004, Schilling beat the Yankees, 4-2, allowing just four hits in seven innings, all the while his right ankle looked like it took on enemy fire.
The real kind.
Wedge acknowledged what Schilling did three years ago added to his reputation. But that was three years ago.
“Ultimately ... you could go ahead and put that over here on the side, because the only thing that matters is (tonight),” Wedge said.
Schilling’s blood-soaked sock conjures up memories of toughness. The Indians tasted more toughness from Beckett than they could from a five-dollar steak. He willed his way through Wedge’s lineup time and again. Not that anyone’s pointing fingers, but Travis Hafner is 3-for-19 with eight strikeouts in the heart of the order.
So Schilling got to thinking Friday morning. He realized he’s in better shape tonight than he was that night in 2004.
“I was basically pitching on a broken foot with a lot less stuff than I have now,” Schilling said Friday. “There’s no excuse for me not to be able to go out (tonight) with what I have now, and if I can execute perfectly, I can pitch as good, if not better.
“It really made it very clear. I’ve done a lot better in a lot worse circumstances with a lot worse stuff.”
So, how that’s make you feel today?
On paper, it says Cleveland hitters owned Schilling in Game 2, a marathon that was decided well after Schilling left in the fifth.
Schilling’s body is falling apart, his ERA, above nine for this series, is rising.
His confidence seems unshaken.
Schilling watched Beckett’s performance in Game 5 and came away inspired. Asked if he was nostalgic watching Beckett, because it was what Schilling could once do, he smiled.
“If nostalgic means jealous, yeah,” he said. “There were so many little things that happened that showed me how locked in he was. ... Nothing was going to get in the way of that. I can remember that, and I can remember the power of that.
“It was literally ... I’m going to throw this pitch, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
It sounds cocky. It’s the truth.
Wedge flew to Boston with a plane full of guys who have never experienced this. They don’t know if there’s momentum or not in baseball.
It feels like Boston stole something the Indians say doesn’t exist.
Wedge is placing his chips on his guys. The ones who have won more than 100 games. The ones who, for the first time, looked like they were in a fight for their postseason lives the last time out.
Boston has experience. The Indians are experiencing. Who has the advantage?
“We’ll find out,” Wedge said. “Every game for us in a different way is another first. Our guys have done a hell of a job handling that. They have a sense of security with each other.”
A sense of security is great. They better come to Fenway with a sense of confidence tonight. It sounds like Schilling will.
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail email@example.com.