Curt Schilling.Curt Schilling came oh so close to a no-hitter today. But Shannon Stewart broke it up when he singled to right with two outs in the ninth.

Schilling was crushed. Boston was bummed. And Julio Lugo was (no doubt) relieved.

I mean, he must have been, right? Because if Schilling had recorded that last out, the following sentence would have appeared in every newspaper in America tomorrow:

Schilling’s no-hitter would have been a perfect game, but Dan Johnson reached base in the fifth inning on a fielding error by Julio Lugo.

No position player wants to make the error that proves to be the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game. Lugo REALLY didn’t want to make that error. He’s had a tough act to follow, after Sox fans spent a year watching Alex “greatest ever” Gonzalez throw guys out from his knees. Lugo didn’t need to give Sox fans one more reason to complain about him. He lucked out today.

On an unrelated note, Schilling probably feels like he’s never going to get that no-no. The pitch that Steward hit was a fastball. Sox catcher Jason Varitek called for a slider, but Schilling shook him off.

“We get two outs, and I was sure, and I had a plan, and I shook Tek off,” Schilling said. “And I get a big `What if?’ for the rest of my life.”

This was Schilling’s third one-hitter. Probably the closest he’d come to a no-hitter before today was in 2001, when he came within five outs of a perfect game while pitching for the Diamondbacks against the Padres. But San Diego catcher Ben Davis ruined his gem with a bunt base hit.

**Note: Ben Davis is a family friend (we attend the same Super Bowl party) and if he never catches another big league game I’ll always remember how he broke up Schilling’s perfect game and how Schilling wined about it afterwards. Davis represented the tying run, Curt! We’re playing baseball here! Strap on a set!

6 Responses to “Julio Lugo owes Shannon Stewart a beer.”

  1. Alejandro, I’ve always thought Guillen was an ass. But I read an interesting story yesterday by Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rogers, who says that the numbers show Guillen is actually a good manager.

    Rogers uses a stat called the “Impact Factor”, which “quantifies the effect of managers on their teams by comparing season records against their finish in the Pythagorean standings, devised by Bill James to assign a team an expected record based on runs allowed and runs scored.”

    Of all active managers, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre have the highest impact factor ratings, though Torre’s is way down this year. Here’s what Rogers says about Guillen:

    “Sometimes managers get more out of their teams than they should. Sometimes they get less.

    While this surely will surprise White Sox fans, Ozzie Guillen is a plus-3 this season, which means he has done a good job to hang around .500 with a team that has issues.”

    Food for thought.

  2. Alejandro Leal says:

    That’s a very good point.

    The Sox, record-wise, are starting to settle right where they’ll probably be all season long – at or around .500.

    It’s very hard to argue that Ozzie Guillen is the root of all problems when for some of us, he was the catalyst that brought the championship home in 2005.

    It may very well be the cyclical element of subtle rebuilding. Williams brought in talent by trading for Thome and Vazquez, but he lapsed in improving his bench.

    And then there’s the loyalty factor. By signing Joe Crede (who’s been bothered by a bad back), the team was forced to let hot prospect Josh Fields simmer one more year in the minors. Whether he would’ve been more valuable to the team had he been allowed to play one full season is debatable. Two words: Brian Anderson. But Fields can hit .226 in the bigs just fine.

    All things considered, the Sox are not going to win it all this season, so they ought to think about the next three to five years, and what better way than by making a few trades of the white flag type?

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Coley, this is what Schilling said about that “wining” [sic] in today’s Globe. FWIW, that USA Today article you linked to doesn’t actually have a quote from Schilling expressing him “wining,” beyond saying he was surprised by the bunt. And isn’t a bunt, by its very nature, supposed to be surprising? Anyway, the Globe:

    The bunt truth

    Schilling had come within five outs of a no-hitter May 26, 2001, but lost it when Ben Davis of the Padres blooped a bunt single in the eighth inning of a game Schilling won, 2-0. Davis was ripped by Arizona manager Bob Brenly and Schilling’s teammates for resorting to bunting with a no-hitter on the line.

    “The thing about the Ben Davis game, I was one of the few guys who didn’t say anything after that game, and I never have,” Schilling said. “It caught me off guard when it happened, but I wasn’t offended by it. It was a 2-0 game at the time.”

    Schilling said he was mindful the Athletics might try to bunt in the late innings yesterday in a one-run game. “I know that [Mark ] Kotsay and Jason [ Kendall] both know how to play the game,” Schilling said of the first two hitters in the Oakland ninth. “I was ready for it if it happened.”

    Third baseman Mike Lowell said he was looking for the bunt for much of the game. “I wasn’t going to let them get a cheap bunt,” he said.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Proof That Designated Hitters Must Be Abolished Because They’re Not Really Baseball Players: Proof #349

    From the Boston Herald this morning:

    “After the first out in the ninth inning, I looked up at all the zeros (on the scoreboard) and saw a zero under the ‘H’ and I said, ‘Wait a minute!'” – David Ortiz

    Dude had no idea until 25 outs had already been recorded. He was not a part of the ballgame.

  5. tom decenso says:

    That bunt was cheap and if he had any love for the game he would have broken it up swinging. Noone bunted off of nolan ryan when he pitched his last 2 or 3. They went up there swinging. Ben Davis will always be remembered for being someone who didnt have that respect.

  6. Sarah, you’re right. Schilling, as far as I can tell, never “whined” about Davis’ bunt. I shouldn’t have said that he did. On the other hand, he certainly never asked his manager or teammates to stop wining about it. He never stood up and defended Davis. So as far as I’m concerned his silence is as good as criticism.

    Paul, you’re right. The DH needs to be tossed.

    Tom, using steroids is disrespecting the game. Betting on your team is disrespecting the game. Showing up late or hung-over is disrespecting the game.

    Laying down a bunt single when your team is down by two runs and Tony Gwynn is waiting to pinch hit is not disrespecting the game. Doing everything within the rules to win is not disrespecting the game. Quite the opposite.

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