Derek Lowe: The 5 Finest Moments of His Red Sox Career

Chris Mahr@@CMahrtianContributor IMay 10, 2012

Derek Lowe: The 5 Finest Moments of His Red Sox Career

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    Tonight, Derek Lowe will face the Boston Red Sox for the second time—at Fenway and overall—since departing Boston as a free agent following the 2004 season.

    It will be a welcome return for Lowe and Sox fans. Right now, the latter could stand to enjoy some nostalgia.

    At 12–18, the Red Sox have the third-worst record in the American League in what looks to be the early stages of a forgettable season. Aside from winning games, there’s no better way to salve the wounds than to look back on Boston’s past moments of glory.

    During the course of an up-and-down career in Boston, Lowe provided his fair share of moments. In anticipation of his matchup with Josh Beckett, here are five of them.

Sept. 30, 2000, at Tampa Bay: 42nd Save of Season

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    Lowe struggled to find an identity during his first season and a half in Boston, compiling a 3–12 record while splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen.

    It wasn’t until he became the closer during the 1999 stretch run that he began to flourish. That success carried over into the next season in a big way.

    Although he didn’t possess overpowering stuff, Lowe used his sinker to great effect as Boston’s ninth-inning (and often eighth-inning) stopper. He led the American League with 42 saves, the last of which came in Boston’s second-to-last game of the season.

    Overall he had a 2.56 ERA in 91.1 IP and made the first of two appearances in the All-Star Game.

April 27, 2002, vs. Tampa Bay: Lowe’s No-No

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    Lowe certainly had a habit of recording milestones against the Rays.

    Less than a season removed from losing the closer’s job to Ugueth Urbina, Lowe salvaged his career in Boston by making a successful move back to the rotation. In his fifth start of 2002, he allowed just one walk in no-hitting the Rays, 10–0, on a mere 97 pitches.

    For the year, Lowe went 21–8 and formed one of baseball’s most dominant top-of-the-rotation duos (along with the 20–4 Pedro Martinez). He made his second AL All-Star team in three seasons and finished third in Cy Young voting (behind winner Barry Zito and Martinez).

    Boston missed the playoffs for the third straight season, but Lowe’s performance helped put the Sox back into the postseason discussion for the first time since 1999.

Oct. 6, 2003, vs. Oakland: Closing the Door

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    Lowe was up and down throughout 2003 (despite a 17–7 record) and had taken the loss in Game 1 of the ALDS against the A’s, walking four batters in 1.2 innings of work.

    So imagine the surprise (some might say horror) of seeing Lowe enter Game 5 in the ninth inning after closer Scott Williamson walked the first two batters he faced.

    After a sacrifice bunt by Ramon Hernandez moved runners to second and third, Lowe fanned Adam Melhuse and walked Chris Singleton to set up a bases-loaded, two-out showdown with Terence Long.

    With the count and 1-and-2, Lowe threw what might have been the most clutch pitch of his career: a two-seam fastball that started right at Long before tailing back over the inner half of the plate for a called strike three.

    It was the culmination of a dramatic Boston comeback from a 2-0 hole in the series. And Lowe was likely as surprised as anybody that he was the one to shut the door in the rubber game.

Oct. 20, 2004, vs. New York: Completing a Comeback for the Ages

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    Lowe’s ERA ballooned to 5.42 during the ’04 regular season, leading manager Terry Francona to leave him out of Boston’s playoff starting rotation.

    But in Game 7 of the ALCS, with Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling unavailable (having pitched Games 5 and 6) and Bronson Arroyo coming off a shelling in Game 3, Lowe got the ball in Yankee Stadium—with the hopes of a comeback from a 3–0 hole resting on his shoulders.

    And he didn’t disappoint.

    Working on just two days rest (he started and pitched 5.1 innings in Game 4), Lowe held the Yankees to one hit and one run over six innings on an economical 69 pitches. By the time he departed, Boston held an 8–1 lead.

    After enduring a regular season during which he was battered around, Lowe’s sinker started sinking again when it mattered most. And history was made because of it.

Oct. 27, 2004, at St. Louis: Breaking the Curse

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    Lowe’s heroics didn’t end with his Game 7 ALCS triumph in the Bronx.

    In Game 4 of the World Series against the Cardinals, he threw seven innings of shutout ball, surrendering just three hits and a walk while striking out four. Boston’s cathartic, 3–0 victory clinched its first World Series title in 86 years.

    And Lowe made history in the game, becoming the first pitcher to win the deciding game of all three postseason rounds—ALDS, ALCS and World Series—in the same year.

    Perhaps knowing that it was the perfect time to end his career in Boston, Lowe inked a four-year deal with the Dodgers in January 2005. Red Sox fans have had rosy-colored memories of the sinkerballer ever since.