Monday, December 28, 2009

Red Sox A-Z: L is for…

Lowe, as in Derek
Derek Lowe came to the Red Sox as part of one of the best deadline trades in recent memory. The Red Sox sent Heathcliff Slocumb to the Mariners in exchange for Lowe and Jason Varitek. Varitek, of course, went on to be the best catcher in Red Sox history. Lowe had an up and down Red Sox career, but sure ended it in a blaze of glory.
I was lucky enough to be at what might be the highlight of Lowe’s career. I was in the stands when Lowe threw the first no-hitter at Fenway Park in quite some time. I’ve often said that I’ve been at enough games over the years, that I’ve been able to check off a lot of goals. I’ve been to a playoff game, and a World Series game. I’ve seen Cy Young winners and MVPs. But, those could be scheduled. I knew that if I went to an Orioles game, chances are Cal Ripken would be in the line-up. But, the special events are the ones that are harder to get. I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d miss out on a no-hitter. It was way too rare to count on. But, I got lucky with Lowe facing the Devil Rays.
Lowe wasn’t a typical dominating pitcher. He’s not someone you expected to throw such a gem. When Pedro was on the mound, you started counting down at the first batter. When he gave up his first hit, it was a bit of a downer knowing it wouldn’t be the day he finally threw one. Lowe, on the other hand, didn’t have that level of expectations. He also didn’t have the type of “stuff” that you noticed when he was pitching well. When Pedro was on, you noticed that he struck out 5 of the first six batters. With Lowe’s groundball outs, though, it was hard to notice a great performance. So, it wasn’t until the sixth inning that I even noticed he had a no-hitter going. I looked down at my scorecard, and realized that the Devil Rays were hitless. I didn’t dare think that this would be the day. But, with only three innings left, the chances were certainly better.
When the ninth inning started, I actually got chills. I noticed that the Sox let Derek lead them onto the field, to a loud ovation. Naturally, I was concerned that the Sox had just jinxed him. But, it didn’t. With a slow groundball to second base, Derek Lowe did it! I couldn’t believe it!
Lowe pitched a few more years for the Sox. Obviously, he ended his tenure clinching all three series of the 2004 playoffs. He’ll always be a World Champion. And, he’ll have always delivered one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at Fenway Park.
L is for Lowe, Derek

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