When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 many players got the credit. One that deserves more than he receives is Derek Lowe.
It’s hard to look back at the recent success of the Red Sox and nitpick different things from the World Championship campaigns. When the calendar flips to October we often see a select few that have that special gene step up to the occasion. Today’s focus is on the 2004 World Series and one man, in particular, right-hander Derek Lowe.
Lowe would join the Red Sox ahead of the 1997 trade deadline in a pairing with future Boston captain, Jason Varitek. This is going to sound incredibly dramatic but this trade may have been one of the most important in Sox history. Just think of 2004 when you remember this trade. This duo were key figures in ending the Curse of the Bambino and raising the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time in 86 years.
His time with Boston was filled with some massive highs, see the aforementioned World Series Championship, as well as a no-hitter. But it wasn’t without lows either as his time as a reliever wasn’t the best role for him. He would bounce back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen to mixed results.
It would be in the 2000 season that Lowe finally got into the swing of things and became absolutely automatic out of the bullpen. As the full-time closer for the Red Sox that year he would lead the MLB in Games Finished (64) and Saves (42). His 4-4 record, 2.56 ERA, 91.1 IP, and 7.8 K/9 would prove his reliability. He’d also be an All-Star that year, a very much deserved honor.
This whole thing is about 2004 though, a year that had plenty of stress for the righty. Lowe was staring down the barrel of free agency with no indication from Boston if he’d be returning for 2005. His contract year wasn’t the strongest, 14-12/5.42/182.2/1.615/5.2, but he earned his money in October.
Boston had two other pitchers that soaked up much of the media attention and they are Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. Schilling was the big offseason catch for the Red Sox and would become one of the leaders of the team. Pedro was Boston’s longtime gunslinger that was also heading towards free agency.
While these two deserve every bit of attention and credit that they get for their efforts in 2004, it’s Lowe that needs a little more light shined his way.
When the calendar flipped to October in 2004, Lowe became automatic and he was damn near untouchable. D-Lowe went out there and tossed for a 3-0 record backed by an impressive 1.86 ERA, through 19.1 IP. He also punched out 10 batters while only walking 3 players that stepped into the box against him. I’m sorry, but those are some pretty good numbers and the man should be getting some love for that.
Let’s take another angle at his 2004 postseason and realize that he pitched in all three series-clinching games. He closed out the ALDS, got the win in Game 7 of the ALCS, and put away the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series. It’s one thing to pitch in big-game scenarios, but Lowe closed out each level of the playoffs that year. That takes not only some strength on the mental side of things but also some major cajones.
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The Red Sox have been all over the tv as of late due to the delay of the 2020 season. Both NESN and ESPN have put a focus on the 2004 season as it was such a magical time for Red Sox Nation. I’ve gotten to watch Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees a few times lately and one thing stuck hard in my mind. Terry Francona had told Lowe that he was going to be back in the bullpen and that seemed to really piss Derek off.
The righty went out each and every inning to stick it to his manager, for lack of a better term, and earn his starts. Though he was going to be a free agent at season’s end, he was a part of the Red Sox until that final out was recorded. He wasn’t going back to the bullpen and he made sure that he was the farthest thing from expendable. Lowe may not have had the best fastball or the nastiest breaking pitch, but his performances in the 2004 postseason were things of beauty.
When fans look back on that World Series crown many will throw out names like David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Schilling, and more, but it’s Derek Lowe that should be in that upper echelon of players. What he did for the Red Sox that postseason should go down in Boston sports lore as being a Herculean effort. Though his career would continue for several years his work in October of 2004 is what will be etched in the fans’ minds forever.