THE CURSE OF THE
BAMBINO, PART 11 ...
IT'S TIME TO "COWBOY UP"
The Sox clinch the wild card
September 25, 2003
In the best of all twists yet in a crazy season of wild highs and
unfathomable lows, the Red Sox last night pocketed the first big
prize in their bid to erase the franchise's 85-year championship
famine by throttling the Orioles, 14-3, before 34,526 at Fenway Park
to clinch a wild-card berth in the American League Division Series.
surged ahead so swiftly - 12-0 after four innings, that the game took on a
festive tone almost from the start. While the joyful throng waited to join in
the celebration, the Sox began pulling their starters as early as the sixth
inning while the champagne chilled in the clubhouse. It was a fine tribute to
the bit players, many of whom have never been to the postseason.
wore his wild-card T-shirt over his uniform and his hat was askew. He was
drenched in champagne and beer, the perfect cocktail to describe this team of
headliners and hardhats. More than any other player, Lowe typifies Red Sox
Nation. He wears his heart on his sleeve. When he is pitching, you don't have to
look at the scoreboard to see how the Olde Town Team is doing. Just look at
Lowe. He has shown anguish in defeat and delight in victory during this season
of peaks and valleys. There certainly was. Although Lowe backed up his 21-win
2002 season with another solid effort (17-7 with a 4.47 ERA), he gave the Fenway
faithful fits early in the season.
Lowe flirted with a no-hitter. But in the fifth inning, he yielded an infield
single to Luis Matos and a clean single to center by Jack Cust. Those were the
only hits he allowed in six innings, allowing two runs, one earned. Lowe threw
94 pitches, 56 for strikes. If he had a problem, it was his control. He gave up
four walks, two to Brook Fordyce, which is understandable since the Connecticut
native is a .422 lifetime hitter (10 for 22) against Lowe.
Lowe made a
team-high 33 starts and the Red Sox won more games (22) he started than any
other pitcher, including Pedro Martinez (17). He set the tone in the first
inning by getting Brian Roberts, Jerry Hairston, and Larry Bigbie to ground out
on just five pitches. Lowe's teammates obliged with run support (12 runs in four
innings) as Lowe cruised. He is waiting to be handed the ball against the A's in
a playoff berth brought about an hour of festivities that moved back and forth
from the clubhouse to the field, imagine what might happen if the Red Sox, well,
you know. Garciaparra was particularly appreciative of the fan support the team
received last night and throughout the season. He was the first Red Sox player
to venture into the outfield, running a quasi-victory lap on the warning track
with his arms full of wild-card T-shirts and hats. He threw the souvenirs into
the stands for the fans.