Lowe back from depths to start Game 4
ST. LOUIS — All Curt Schilling needed to pitch in the World Series was an unprecedented procedure to stitch his ankle together.
Derek Lowe’s problems were harder to fix.
“You can’t put a finger on it,” reliever Alan Embree said of the late-season struggles — maybe mental, maybe mechanical — that bounced Lowe to the bullpen. “Curt’s, at least you know what it is.”
Lowe, who will face Jason Marquis in Game 4 of the World Series tonight, was 14-10 during the regular season, but over a three-start period in September he allowed 15 earned runs and lasted just 8 2/3 innings. The former 21-game winner, who has a no-hitter to his credit, was put in the bullpen for the first-round series against Anaheim and was supposed to stay there for the AL Championship Ceries against the Yankees.
When Schilling’s ankle injury messed up the Red Sox’s rotation, Lowe started Game 4 against New York. A loss, and Boston’s season was over.
But Lowe held the Yankees to three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, then held New York to one hit over six innings in Game 7 to help Boston advance to the World Series. The Red Sox lead the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 heading into Tuesday night’s third game.
“The more times you get put in those opportunities you have success, I think it gives you more confidence,” Lowe said before Game 3. “I love this time of year. And I think you have to. I think you have to relish the opportunity to go out there, not be scared to fail, prepare your butt off to go out and pitch a good game. And for the past couple of years, I think it’s worked.”
Seeing how Lowe saved them from elimination, Lowe’s teammates welcomed his recovery. But they were also happy to see the fun-loving pitcher come out of his funk for personal reasons.
“I couldn’t be happier for another person on this team,” said Bronson Arroyo, who lost his spot in the playoff rotation to Lowe. “During the division series, he was kind of a fish out of water in the bullpen. It was kind of deflating for him to be put there and not play a major role in the series.
“If I could have (chosen to) switch places with him and been in the bullpen like I am now, I’d do it, because he deserves it more than I do.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Lowe wasn’t thrilled about going to the bullpen but understood that he hadn’t pitched as well as Arroyo and Tim Wakefield.
“And because he stayed prepared, look what he did for us. Look what he’s going to do for us,” Francona said. “I’m thrilled for him.”
Marquis has already pitched in the Series, coming on in relief during the seventh inning of Game 2. It was his first inning out of the bullpen this season.
“I sort of used it as a tuneup in my mind,” he said. “It got my feet wet and let me know what kind of atmosphere I was dealing with.”
Marquis has allowed six runs in 8 1/3 innings this year over three playoff appearances, two of them starts. He started Game 2 of the division series against Los Angeles, then was bumped to the No. 4 starter in the NLCS and World Series.
Marquis insists fatigue has nothing to do with his postseason struggles even though he’s thrown 209 2-3 innings, 80 more than his previous high in 2001 with the Braves. He won a career-high 15 games, but in his final five starts he was 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA.
“Physically, I feel great,” Marquis said. “Mentally, I feel great. There’s going to be no physical attributes that are going to affect that game.”