Was this it? Was this the last time the October ace pitched in a Red Sox uniform, the last time he pitched in a postseason game?
The cool New England night had the feel of a farewell of sorts. As he marched to the dugout after his outing in Game 2 of the World Series was complete,
In Game 1, it was the Boston lineup that shined in a historic performance. Game 2 belonged to the Red Sox's pitchers, who dominated the somnolent Rockies lineup for a second consecutive night. A day after the 13-1 thrashing in Game 1, the Red Sox showed they are built to win the close games, too. Yes, they have the game's most dominant starter in
After Schilling finessed his way through 5 1/3 innings, again relying on guile and not gas, Okajima and Papelbon, who recorded the last 11 outs of the game by allowing just one baserunner, were untouchable. The country knows Papelbon, the gregarious, Riverdancing All-Star closer who is starting to build his own October legend (he has pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in five postseason games). Now meet Oki, who last winter was Boston's less heralded Japanese import, his arrival overshadowed by the $103 million the Red Sox showered on
"This is our first viewing of him," said Colorado manager
"It's one thing to watch him on TV," said
After his dazzling 2 1/3 innings of work in Game 2, in which he showcased his pinpoint 89 mph fastball and devastating splitter (he K'd four hitters as 20 of his 28 pitches were strikes), the 31-year-old from Kyoto with the unconventional delivery has pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings against the Angels, Indians, and Rockies this postseason. In the sixth, Boston clung to a 2-1 lead with one out and men on first and second. Schilling exited, and Okajima arrived: He induced a ground ball from
"If Oki doesn't throw as many strikes as he did, he wouldn't have been able to stay out there for as long as he did, but he was so good," said Boston manager
Said Papelbon, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth (11 of his 13 pitches were high-90s fastballs) and turned in one of the game's biggest plays when he picked off
The Rockies limp to Denver down 2-0 but hopeful the thin air will give them new life. "We haven't played well," said Helton, "but we know everything can change very quickly." They also now know this: They better get a lead early Saturday night because the game is all but over when it's Pap-ajima time.