Take nothing away from Curt Schilling, who did not have his best stuff, but still gritted his way into the sixth giving up just one run. But with two on and one out, it was clear he was running on fumes. We were one flat splitter away from being down, 4-2, with Brian Fuentes and Manny Corpas waiting to shut down the bats the rest of the game.
Rather than let him work out of it — or put the Red Sox out of it — Terry Francona went to the mound. He didn’t ask Schilling (a la Grady Little-Pedro Martinez) if he felt he could continue. He didn’t meekly request the Greatest Postseason Pitcher of Our Era whether he could please get a couple more outs (as many accuse him of doing when the subject turns to Schilling). He took the ball from a clearly unhappy Curt, and gave it to the Red Sox’ most reliable setup man, who proceeded to shut down the Rockies for the better part of three innings.
Schilling, Mike Lowell and Hideki Okajima are rightfully getting the credit for the Sox’ 2-1 win last night. But without Terry Francona’s sixth-inning decision, their performances likely would have been moot.