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Enchanted April, but what about August and September?
In a long pitching career, Curt Schilling had many great moments, and many great seasons; the month of April, 1998, pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, would have to rank high on his list of accomplishments. It actually began on the last day of March, opening day at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets. The game was a harbinger of the season – the Phillies played 14 innings without scoring a run and lost 1-0; Schilling pitched the first eight, yielding two hits and striking out nine.
On Sunday, April 5th, the Phillies were in Atlanta and Schilling was matched against the Braves’ Greg Maddux who, in the past five years had won 89, lost 33, and won consecutive Cy Young Awards in 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995. Schilling gave up a first inning home run to Chipper Jones, then blanked the Braves on three hits the rest of the way, striking out 15; the Phillies won 2-1 on Scott Rolen’s eighth inning sacrifice fly; the run was unearned because of an error by Chipper Jones Five days later, it was Schilling versus Maddux again, this time at the Vet. It was a complete game, 2-hit, 10 K, 1-0 win for Schilling and the Phillies. Maddux pitched eight shutout innings; the game was lost by a relief pitcher in the ninth on Mike Lieberthal’s hit.
In 1998, the Atlanta Braves won 106 games and finished 31 games ahead of the Phillies, but in April they could not get by Curt Schilling.
On April 15, it was again Curt Schilling’s turn to pitch, this time in Florida against the Marlins; his control was uncharacteristically off as he walked six and struck out only seven. Yet he carried a 2-1 lead into the 7th only to lose it on a pinch hit two-run homer by (are you ready for this?) Jim Eisenreich; it was Eisenreich’ only home run of the year, the 52nd and last in a 15-year Major League career.
Schilling had two more April decisions, a 6-3 loss to Cincinnati on the 21st (10 Ks and just three runs off Schilling), and a 9-3 win over St.Louis on the 26th (13 Ks).
For March and April, Schilling’s totals were : Starts – six; CG – 2; Innings pitched – 48, Ks – 65, W-3, L-2. The team was 11-12. Through July, the team was 55-52, then faded in August and September to finish at 75-87. Schilling pitched 268 innings with 15 complete games, 300 strikeouts, and a 15-14 record.
Ed Wade deals:
June 2 Amateur Free Agent Draft – Phillies had first pick in the first round and chose Pat Burrell; first round, 42nd pick – Eric Valent; ninth round – Ryan Madson;
15th round – Geoff Geary; 21st round – Nick Punto.
August 28 – Traded Gregg Jefferies to the Anaheim Angels for a season pass to Disneyland.
November 19 – Traded Ricky Bottalico and Garrett Stephenson to St. Louis for Jeff Brantley, Ron Gant, and Cliff Pollite.
December 4 – Signed Carlos Ruiz to a non-drafted free agent contract.