The most memorable sight of a rain-soaked evening occurred when injured Boston Red Sox ace Curt Schilling stepped out of the dugout and onto the field at Fenway Park and threw his first bullpen session since a Game 1 pounding by the New York Yankees. Schilling's throwing session has added intrigue and uncertainty to Boston's pitching rotation.
Both teams will face tough decisions with their staffs because of Friday's rained-out Game 3.
The Yankees will remain with their same pitching alignment for the next three games: Kevin Brown on Saturday, Orlando Hernandez on Sunday and Mike Mussina on Monday, if necessary. If the series travels back to New York, the Yankees will rely on Jon Lieber for Game 6 and then will brace themselves should they need a Game 7 starter. Mussina and Lieber, who both had successful outings in Games 1 and 2, will be unavailable, leaving either the oft-injured Brown on three days' rest or perhaps even Javier Vazquez. The Yankees were so unsure of Vazquez they decided to give his spot in Game 4 to Hernandez, who because of a sore shoulder hasn't pitched in the postseason.
"Well, when you went into this series, you think about the need for four pitchers to keep them on regular rest," Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "And with the off-day now being taken away on Monday, it will, you know, put us in a situation where we'll have to think about what we want to do if the series does go seven games on what we want to do there. We do have some options and I think we are going to wait and explore those options as we go along."
It is the Red Sox who have the most intriguing scenario for Game 7, though they must find a way to get there.
Bronson Arroyo pitches Saturday and Tim Wakefield on Sunday. Then the rotation gets interesting, if the series continues. As of now Derek Lowe will pitch Game 5 on Monday and Pedro Martinez will throw in Game 6 on Tuesday, leaving Schilling perhaps as the Game 7 starter.
"What it's going to come down to is we are trying to win the series," Boston Manager Terry Francona said. "That is how we base our decision solely. Not to extend the series or get to a certain game. It's based on trying to win four games."
Francona said the team is encouraged by Schilling's bullpen session and left open the possibility that he could pitch again in this series. The Boston ace used a high-top shoe to help stabilize the torn tendon in his right ankle. The shoe seemed to work well for Schilling, though it was not the right size.
"Yeah, we'll see if we can get a bigger size," Francona joked. "All of that stuff, and we've got the wrong size."
When Schilling, who also used an anesthetic, removed the high-top shoe and pitched with a regular low-top shoe he appeared to feel the same type of pain that had bothered him in Game 1, when he allowed six runs in just three innings. Schilling returned to the high top and felt less pain, though his toes hurt because the shoe was too small. Francona said that with the high top, Schilling's stride was better than it was during Game 1.
"We all know what's wrong with him, but if he can manage it, that might be more than half the battle," Francona said. "He seemed today, at least in his bullpen session to manage it, so we'll just see how he goes from here."
The forecast for Friday had appeared grim since the series began on Tuesday in New York. On Thursday's workout day, Major League Baseball handed out a release on ticket scenarios should Friday's game be rained out.
Both teams braced for what seemed to be a long day of waiting. As early as 6 p.m. baseball officials, led by Sandy Alderson, baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, met to discuss the possibility postponing Game 3. They met again at 6:30, then 7:15 and finally 7:45 before the game was called. One baseball executive said it was Commissioner Bud Selig who forced officials to wait as long as possible before rescheduling the game.
"Obviously in the postseason when we start a game, we want to be able to go nine innings and finish a complete game and not get into abbreviated games and so forth," Alderson said. "So we really had no window whatsoever. A very different situation from [Thursday] night in St. Louis where we had a very different forecast and very different playing surface in terms of drainage."
The field at Fenway Park is known to not drain well, which affected baseball's decision. The wait appeared fruitless to those who had seen a forecast. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman seemed so sure the game would be rained out that he made dinner reservations.
Conspiracy theorists should rest. Though this rainout clearly seems to help the Red Sox in aligning their rotation, it is league officials who make the decisions during the postseason. Teams are only consulted. Baseball has never had a playoff game postponed after having started the game. Officials seemed unsure of what would happen in that scenario though Richard Levin, senior vice president of public relations for baseball, said if a game had gone past the fifth inning it would likely be considered official.