09/21/2002 00:10 am ET
Lowe sitting high with 21st win
By Becky Dubin / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- At this time last year, Derek Lowe couldn't wait for the season
to end. He was counting the games, the days, the minutes. He was a
beleaguered Red Sox reliever, and he couldn't wait until the offseason
started so he could hit the golf course, and forget everything that had
happened in what he called the most frustrating season of his young career.
After notching his 21st win of the season -- a 4-2 victory -- on Friday
night against a team he has dominated this season, Lowe was all smiles. The
big right-hander stood in front of his locker in the Red Sox's clubhouse at
Camden Yards and appeased reporter after reporter who came to interview him.
He even threw in a few jokes for good measure.
"Hey, you didn't ask me any questions," he chided one, as he threw back his
head and laughed.
The relaxation Lowe is feeling now comes because win No. 20 -- the "magic
number" for pitchers, he said -- is a distant memory. Anything past that
win, which came Sept. 14 against Baltimore, is icing on the cake. Included
in the something-extra-that-would-make-his-life category would be winning
the Cy Young Award, for which he is in contention with teammate Pedro
Martinez and Oakland's Barry Zito.
Lowe (21-7, 2.45 ERA) knows he's probably the No. 3 guy because although his
record and ERA stack up with Martinez and Pedro, he has fewer strikeouts.
But that's consistent with a sinkerballer, who induces more ground-ball
"You'd love to win an award like that because you can't sit back and say,
'All right, if I don't win this one, I'll do the same thing next year,'" Lowe
said. "That's not how this thing works. It's extremely tough to get wins. I
was fortunate to get them."
On Friday, Lowe gave up two earned runs on 10 hits in seven innings. He
didn't retire the side in order in any inning, and the 10 hits were the
second-most he has yielded all season. He gave up 13 to the Angels on Aug.
"He gave up a few more hits out there than normal today, but there were a
lot of ground balls that would find their way for hits," Sox manager Grady
Little said. "He was outstanding. He kept battling, and he made some pitches
when he had to make them."
Lowe's fourth win over the Orioles bumped his record to 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA
in 2002, including a near no-hitter April 5. Lowe was 0-2 with a 2.70 ERA
in six relief games against the O's last season.
"We battled tonight," catcher Jason Varitek said. "But Derek is Derek, and
he came back and was tough when he needed to be."
Lowe's win also gave him more victories in a season than he had in four-plus years as a closer; he went 20-32 working out of the bullpen.
"Being a setup guy and a closer, you don't get a lot of wins," Lowe said.
"Normally, the only thing you get is losses."
Lowe became Boston's scapegoat last season after losing five of his first 11
appearances as a closer before being converted into a middle reliever. After
some success, he was moved back to the closer's role but struggled and was
bumped back to middle relief when the team acquired Ugueth Urbina.
Bats/Throws: R/RMore info:
"What a miserable time for me," he said.
But his intense offseason workouts that helped him gain 12 pounds of muscle
have helped him down the stretch. Lowe plans to follow the same routine this
winter -- after getting some quality time on the links, of course. Then it's
back to business because he knows next season's expectations will be even
"It's a cycle," he said "The same people who had questions this year will
have them next year. It will be, 'How does he follow up [the 2002 season]?
He won't be up to that level.'"
If he's not, he said he'll be OK with it. This season, after all, was filled
with more than he could have ever dreamed of when he earned a starting job
out of Spring Training.
"The no-hitter, the All-Star Game -- things like that, no matter what they
do, they can't take it away," he said.
"Last season seemed like a 12-month season. Man, that was tough. This year,
it's flown by. It's so much easier to come to the ballpark when you're
having success. It makes everything easier -- from pitching to your
workouts. I'm a happier person, a happier player. It's been nice, to say the
Becky Dubin Jenkins is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was
not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.