BOSTON -- In what has developed into a frightening week not even the most cynical Red Sox fan could have predicted, Curt Schilling is hurt, the hometown Red Sox are on the verge of elimination and Derek Lowe, once the team's last option in the rotation, is the club's last hope for survival on Sunday.
Trailing the Yankees 3-0 in the American League Championship Series following New York's 19-8 romp on Saturday, the Red Sox realize it's now up to Lowe to keep Boston's season alive, and to spark a series rally that would be the biggest comeback in franchise, not to mention baseball, history.
"Tomorrow is going to come real quick, and we've got to try to win tomorrow," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, I sat in that dugout for a lot of wins this year and took the smiles and the laughs and everything. You have to sit through a night like tonight. I can't wait -- I won't bail on those guys. We'll show up tomorrow and play."
The Red Sox played on Saturday, too. It just wasn't the fun they expected. In fact, it wasn't much fun at all.
Tim Wakefield, originally scheduled to start Game 4 on Sunday, was forced into action Saturday in a relief role after starter Bronson Arroyo was pulled after two innings. Regular relievers Ramiro Mendoza and Curtis Leskanic combined for just 1 1/3 innings of work before Wakefield entered with one out in the fourth.
"Well, we got ourselves into a bind," Francona said. "Because Wake did what he did, we were able to stay away from (Mike) Timlin and (Keith) Foulke. They can throw multiple innings tomorrow and give us a chance to win.
"We got into a position we didn't want to get in. Wake really picked us up and he would have stayed out there and pitched more," Francona continued. "When we win tomorrow, we'll have Wake to thank for that.
"Derek will pitch tomorrow and we're not quite ready to go from there."
Wakefield retired the first batter he faced before intentionally walking Jorge Posada. Ruben Sierra followed with a two-run triple to put the Yankees ahead, 11-6. The score then snowballed in a game that saw the Red Sox use six pitchers total.
"I did what I could to stop the bleeding," Wakefield said. "That's a potent lineup over there. I'm not sure why it happened the way it happened. They were better than we were tonight."
Derek Lowe / P
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
As for Lowe, he was removed from bullpen exile and named a candidate as the Game 5 starter earlier this week when it was learned that Schilling's right ankle was going to keep him from pitching.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox faithful, it's a place Lowe knows well.
The veteran went 14-12 with a 5.42 ERA during the regular season but went 0-2 and allowed 18 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings in his final five outings. He responded well to earn the win against Anaheim in the series-clinching Game 3 of the American League Division Series, tossing one inning of work, but has been used sparingly since.
Moreover, Lowe is 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA in five ALCS games against the Yankees lifetime, those moments occuring in the 1999 and 2003 postseasons. To top it off, Lowe went 2-3 with a 9.28 ERA in five games against the Yankees this season and is 8-10 with a 6.07 ERA in 39 career games against New York.
The numbers are not enough to deter center fielder Johnny Damon, the resident optimist.
"I think we will be fine," Damon said. "We are all professionals and we know our backs are against the wall. We'll come out and play hard and hopefully play good."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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