10/13/2004 8:55 PM ET
Notes: Lowe could fill the void
Sinkerballer an option if Schilling unable to start
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
|If Curt Schilling cannot pitch in Game 5, Derek Lowe could likely take his spot. (Chris Gardner/AP)
NEW YORK -- In the event that Curt Schilling's ailing right ankle forces him out of Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox do have a rather enviable alternative.
Derek Lowe, who is 52-31 as a regular member for the Boston rotation over the last three seasons, is waiting in the wings.
With the rotation shrinking from five to four for the postseason, Lowe was the odd man out. While he certainly doesn't want Schilling to miss a start, he could have an opportunity awaiting him.
"In Game 5, if you do get the ball, it's going to be a very pivotal game," said Lowe. "You don't want to get [a start] by default. What kills me about the whole thing is not being able to contribute. This is my fourth year in the playoffs and every time I felt like I've contributed.
"This postseason [stinks] in a way because you know your role isn't going to be that important. So if you get an opportunity to start, you will gladly take it and look forward to it because you want to help. I felt like I've really contributed nothing to the point of right now."
Lowe was perhaps understating his impact. After all, he won the Game 3 clincher of the Division Series against Anaheim by pitching a scoreless 10th inning.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona is certainly happy to have Lowe (14-12, 5.42 ERA) as a contingency plan.
"We have Derek Lowe waiting in the wings, he's won as many games as anybody," said Francona. "I know he's had some ups and downs. But Derek could go out there and throw a shutout. That's how we're going to view it."
Lowe just hopes that if he does get the ball, he gets enough time to prepare himself.
"You'd have to throw a side [Thursday]," said Lowe.
In any event, if Lowe gets the ball, he won't let the pressure of replacing Schilling impact the way he pitches.
"You can't look at it like that," said Lowe. "You have to look at it like it's your day to pitch. You know the circumstances of why you're pitching, but you can't go in thinking I'm trying to replace Curt Schilling. You have to go out there and pitch your game."
Keeping the faith: Even if Schilling doesn't pitch for the rest of the series, the Red Sox won't be ready to make any concession speeches. General manager Theo Epstein made that clear.
"This is the same bunch of guys that lost their starting shortstop, their starting right fielder in Spring Training and went out and had a great April," said Epstein. "The same team that fought through adversity in the middle of the season. We were the best team over the last two months of the season. We can win this series with Curt and we can win the series without Curt.
"It would be a greater challenge without him, but we battled these guys down to the last out last year with John Burkett in that role. Burkett's a heckuva pitcher, but you know what I'm saying. This can be done with Curt or without Curt. It's not one guy. We can still win this series, that's our plan."
Bullpen usage: Instead of relying on one reliever to fill the void after Schilling's early knockout in Game 1, Francona spread it out, using Curtis Leskanic, Ramiro Mendoza, Tim Wakefield, Alan Embree, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke.
"Well, we were trying to match up a little bit and not overuse anybody," said Francona. "And also pick innings where we thought we could get them to go out there and get a zero."
Another area Francona was questioned on was why he had Mike Myers, typically a late-inning lefty specialist, warming up in the third inning. Myers never wound up pitching in the game.
Schilling wound up getting out of the third. Francona would have brought Myers in if things became more complicated.
"I'd rather use him for one batter in the third and have him save three runs then have him pitch a mopup inning in the eighth," said Francona.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.