10/03/2003 6:23 PM ET
Lowe craves the Fenway spotlight
Right-hander 11-2 with a 3.21 ERA at home this season
BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Derek Lowe loves pitching at Fenway Park.
He just doesn't want to end his season there. Well, not this weekend anyway.
"I feel very comfortable pitching here. I have ever since I have been here," said Lowe, who joined the Red Sox in 1997. "There's a lot that goes into it. Offensively, we score a lot more runs here. We have high grass on the infield, which helps me out. There are a lot of things that go into that. But this time of year, it doesn't really matter where you are pitching. I'm just really looking forward to getting the start."
On Saturday, the right-hander takes the mound against the Athletics in Game 3 of the American League Division Series with his team on the verge of elimination, and an impressive record at Fenway on his resume.
Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, Lowe could be the answer the Red Sox are looking for. The home team sure hopes so.
"We feel like we have to win three games in a row and it's something we have done many times throughout the course of the season," Red Sox manager Grady Little said. "To be able to start those three games with two in Fenway, we feel very good about it and very confident."
Little feels good about Lowe as well. He should.
In 17 starts at Fenway during the regular season, Lowe went 11-2 with a 3.21 ERA, tied for the seventh-best home ERA in the AL. He went 6-5 with a 6.11 ERA in 16 starts on the road.
The home numbers are remarkable, but they are nothing new.
Over the last two seasons, he is 20-6 with a 2.68 ERA in 32 starts at Fenway. Additionally, he has won 12 of his last 14 decisions at the fabled stadium dating back to 2002 and he led the Major Leagues with a 2.10 home ERA in 2002.
He is 33-21 overall while pitching at home for Boston.
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Part of the reason for Lowe's achievements at home this season could be the result of the team's overall success at Fenway.
The Red Sox finished 53-28 at home compared to their 42-39 record on the road. The offense generated 6.6 runs per game at Fenway while managing 5.3 runs per game on the road.
That said, the Red Sox have scored only five runs in two ALDS games in Oakland.
In Game 1 on Tuesday, Oakland catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped a two-out bunt down the line at third, scoring Eric Chavez to give the Athletics the 5-4 victory in the 12th. Lowe, who took the loss in his first relief appearance since Sept. 9, 2001, threw 42 pitches in 1 2/3 innings. Oakland won Game 2, 5-1, on Thursday.
Lowe said his relief appearance earlier this week would not affect his performance on the mound on Saturday. It can't.
"If anything, it will help, as crazy as it sounds," he said. "My last start was last Thursday, so I was looking at nine days worth of rest and, for a starting pitcher, that's a long time not to get in the game. I felt a little rusty two days ago and hopefully the rust has worn off.
"As far as the number of pitches goes, that won't affect me this time of year. You could pitch significantly more pitches and still be ready for Saturday. Saturday night, the crowd is going to be electric. If anything, the crowd will push you through it."
As for Little, he has no explanation for Lowe's success at home, but he likes the results. In fact, Lowe’s success at Fenway was the largest factor in making the decision to start him in Game 3, Little said.
"He's strong and he's ready to go," Little said. "He'll be out there as long as he can."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its
"I feel very comfortable pitching here. I have ever since I have been here. ... Offensively, we score a lot
more runs here. We have high grass on the infield, which helps me out. ... But this time of year, it doesn't really
matter where you are pitching."
-- Derek Lowe