10/19/2004 11:49 PM ET
Sox turn to Lowe for Game 7
Better-rested righty gets nod over Wakefield
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
|Derek Lowe helped the Sox stave off elimination in Game 4 at Fenway Park. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox have not given up and the reward for their effort, their selflessness and their team-first attitude is the chance of a lifetime.
Following Tuesday's 4-2 victory, Boston has clawed back from what history has proven to be an insurmountable deficit in the 2004 American League Championship Series and is now one victory away from going to the World Series after once trailing three games to none.
"For the last three days, we kept showing up saying we had to win today," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "And because of that, we'll show up [Wednesday] and say the same thing."
Before Game 6, Francona leaned toward Tim Wakefield as the starter for Game 7, but mentioned Derek Lowe as a candidate to start in a postgame interview on television moments after the win.
Lowe was officially named the starter Wednesday. Wakefield will likely pitch in relief.
"All things equal, and that doesn't necessarily mean they always will be, but we think Derek can give us more innings, more pitches than Wake could, if they are throwing well," Francona said. "I mean, obviously, whoever is pitching for both teams isn't going to have a big rope, but if Derek can get outs, we think he can stay out there longer. Wake has thrown 108 pitches -- that's a lot. So has Derek, but Derek is a little younger, he's a sinkerball pitcher, and I think that works to his advantage a little bit."
Almost anybody who can pitch likely will pitch for the Red Sox on Wednesday.
"We have a 25-man roster and whatever it takes to win a game, we'll do," Francona said. "There's not one player or one pitcher that is not willing to do what we ask them to do to try to win. At this time of year, it can't be about individuals. It's got to be about our ballclub and everybody has been great about trying to chip in, whether it's steal, defense, pitch out of the bullpen, everybody has been great."
Wakefield, the knuckleballer who served up Aaron Boone's decisive game-winning home run in last year's ALCS against the Yankees, could get a chance at redemption in the Bronx but has already done his share of the work. He made his first appearance of the series when he pitched one inning of relief in Game 1, allowing three hits and two runs in one inning. Scheduled to start Game 4, he volunteered to pitch in Game 3 and went on to allow five hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief to save an already depleted bullpen.
|Since the 1999 ALDS, the Sox are 10-2 in postseason games when facing elimination:||Year
|2004||ALCS/5||NYY||W 5-4 (14)|
|2004||ALCS/4||NYY||W 6-4 (12)|
Because Wakefield pitched in Game 3, Lowe was removed from the bullpen and placed in the starter's role with the Red Sox on the verge of elimination in Game 4. He responded with 5 1/3 strong innings, allowing six hits and three runs on 88 pitches.
Lowe is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in two postseason games this year. For his career, he is 2-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 postseason appearances.
Moreover, he is 8-10 with a 6.07 ERA against the Yankees for his career and went just 14-12 with a 5.42 ERA during the 2004 season.
"We got into a position we didn't want to get in," Francona said after the Red Sox's 19-8 loss in Game 3. "Wake really, really picked us up. And he would have stayed out there and pitched more. He's a professional and he -- when we win [Sunday], we'll have Wake to thank for that."
The Red Sox did win Game 4, 6-4, but they didn't stop there.
On Monday in Game 5, Wakefield allowed one hit, pitching three scoreless innings of relief for the win, in the 5-4 victory to force a Game 6.
Wakefield's numbers are not necessarily impressive -- a 1-0 record with an 8.59 ERA in 7 1/3 innings so far -- but his effort has been a sight to behold for the Red Sox fans.
The righty went 12-10 with a 4.87 ERA in 188 1/3 innings during 32 games for the Red Sox in 2004, including a 1-0 record with a 1.83 ERA against the Yankees during the regular season.
"Wake will do whatever we ask him to do," catcher Jason Varitek said. "Just like all our pitchers."
It all starts with Lowe.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.