THE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO, PART 11 ...
IT'S TIME TO "COWBOY UP"

Derek Lowe pitches a
complete and superb performance

May 23, 2003 ... It was Derek Lowe's superb performance, continuing his dominance at home with a 9-2 complete-game win with the added benefit of vaulting into sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time this season after the Blue Jays beat the Yankees, 6-2. The Sox haven't been alone in first place since June 26.

In late May none of this means a great deal, but what was evident is that Lowe picked up his team, at a time when Pedro Martinez, the teamís No. 1 pitcher was out with an injury. Lowe said because of his own inconsistency, he never could have put pressure on himself to come up big with Martinez out.

Lowe, 4-3, improved to 3-0 with a 1.53 earned run average in five Fenway starts. Lowe lowered his overall ERA to 5.27, and showed flashes of his breakout season of a year ago, recording 19 infield outs to go along with five strikeouts in an economical 117 pitches.

Lowe wanted badly to pitch a complete game, the second of his career (the first was his April 27, 2002 no-hitter against Tampa Bay). He wanted it so badly he told manager Grady Little that he was going out for the ninth, and Little agreed. Lowe got two quick outs in the ninth before allowing a single and a walk, prompting a visit from Little. Following a brief chat, Lowe retired Casey Blake to end the game in a tidy 2 hours 8 minutes before 32,673.

After the Red Sox scored six runs in the first inning, the locals were probably hoping for a five-inning affair to get out of the miserable conditions. After all, the young Indians didn't seem to have a prayer of coming back against Lowe. Lowe was dominant early, retiring the first seven batters before first baseman Ben Broussard reached base on a ground ball that took a funny high hop just before arriving at Nomar Garciaparra's doorstep, allowing Broussard to beat it out. Lowe recorded four strikeouts over the first three innings, and induced seven ground ball outs to the first 13 batters.

In the fifth, Lowe surrendered a walk and a hit, but got out of the jam. He was not as lucky in the sixth. After plunking leadoff hitter Matt Lawton and walking Omar Vizquel, Lowe surrendered a one- out single to Milton Bradley, delivering Lawton and Vizquel and cutting the Sox' lead to 7-2. Lowe and the Sox were issued a warning after Lowe drilled Lawton, which was in retaliation for Garciaparra being hit by Ricardo Rodriguez leading off the fifth.

But this was a game won early. The Sox were firing on all cylinders in the first against Rodriguez, batting around and scoring six runs. Only Johnny Damon had reason to complain, making the first and last outs of the inning. Otherwise, it was five hits and two Indian errors, one a throwing error by Rodriguez on Todd Walker's bunt single, which got the offensive party started.

Garciaparra singled to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, and Manny Ramirez (who ended an 0-for-13 spell with a second-inning single) walked to load the bases. Trot Nixon followed with what could have been a double play grounder to second, but Brandon Phillips had it go under his glove scoring two runs. Bill Mueller and Shea Hillenbrand responded with back-to-back doubles, accounting for three more runs, and Jason Varitek reached on an infield hit, plating Hillenbrand with the sixth run of the inning. The Sox didn't score again until the fifth when Mueller's single to right delivered Garciaparra.

Rodriguez was out after five innings, allowing seven runs, five of them earned. He put together a solid stretch from the second through fourth innings, but could never recover from his shaky first. The Sox touched graybeard Terry Mulholland for single runs in the sixth and eighth innings. In the sixth, Garciaparra delivered Varitek on a base hit to center, and in the eighth Varitek scored again on Damian Jackson's sacrifice fly to left.

Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 23 games, 11th best in Sox history, with a first-inning single. Garciaparra has a hit in the first inning in six of his last seven games (the other first- inning at-bat was a sacrifice fly). Garciaparra is now hitting .303, raising his average 55 points during the streak. Garciaparra was replaced by Damian Jackson in the eighth because, according to Little, Garciaparra's leg stiffened after getting hit with a Ricardo Rodriguez pitch in the fifth, and he wanted Garciaparra to get a headstart on treatment. The shortstop didn't think his leg would be a problem or keep him out. Three smaller hitting streaks were extended: Todd Walker (11 games), Shea Hillenbrand (8), and Bill Mueller (6)

 

F   E   N   W   A   Y     P   A   R   K

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

 

R

H

E

 
 

CLEVELAND INDIANS

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

 

 

2

4

2

 
 

BOSTON RED SOX

6

0

0

0

1

1

0

1

x

 

 

9

13

0

 

 

W-Derek Lowe (4-3)
L-Ricardo Rodriguez (2-5)
Attendance - 32,673

 2B-Mueller (Bost), Hillenbrand (Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Johnny Damon cf 5 0 2 .255  

 

Todd Walker 2b 5 1 1 .317  

 

Nmr Garciaparra ss 3 2 2 .303  

 

Damian Jackson ss 0 0 0 .265  

 

Manny Ramirez lf 4 1 1 .298  

 

Trot Nixon rf 3 1 1 .309  

 

Bill Mueller 3b 4 1 2 .385  

 

Shea Hillenbrnd 1b 4 1 1 .305  

 

Jeremy Giambi dh 4 0 0 .198  

 

Jason Varitek c 4 2 3 .289  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Derek Lowe 9 4 2 3 5  

 

 

         

 

 

 

2003 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

BOSTON RED SOX 29 18 -

 

 

New York Yankees 29 19 1/2

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 25 24 5

 

 

Baltimore Orioles 21 26 8

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays 19 28 10