Derek Lowe: 'This is a results game'Off a successful debut, veteran righty knows there's more work to do
After all, Lowe isn’t a polarizing figure like, say, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens or Johnny Damon when it comes to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. But his best years came in Boston and there are those in Red Sox Nation who wanted their team to bring him back to Fenway Park for one final go-around. Alas, the BoSox passed and the Yankees moved quickly to sign Lowe, released by the Indians and on the Yankees’ watch list once CC Sabathia (elbow) landed on the disabled list for the second time this season.
Lowe allowed a hit in the sixth, but escaped unscathed. Beginning in the seventh, when he pitched a clean inning, Lowe and his notorious sinkerball turned back the clock. The fans then took notice, giving him a loud ovation and he responded by pitching two more scoreless innings to seal the Yankees’ 8-2 win over the potent Texas Rangers. His first night as a Yankee, Lowe felt the love even if he wasn’t 100 percent sure he was the target of the fans’ affection.
“I think it’s pretty cool, because I hear a lot of people saying, ‘Derek, I love you.’ I don’t know if that’s for me, or for Jeter,” Lowe said. “I think it may be for me, so I think that’s kinda cool.”
It’s been a trying season for Lowe, who started strong before getting to the point to where he felt he was throwing “mashed potatoes.” After the Indians designated him for assignment, Lowe spent a week in Fort Myers, Fla., to fix his mechanics. Speaking to the media Monday afternoon, he revealed he chose the Yankees after speaking with a handful of teams, including the Red Sox, and declared he would not have come on board if he felt he had anything left. Lowe believed there was something still inside and was confident that whatever plague led to an 8.80 ERA in his final 12 starts for Cleveland was cured.
“Clearly you don’t throw as hard as you normally do, and when you lose your deception, you’re in for a world of hurt,” Lowe said. “So I had to get back to hiding the ball a little bit better. And so far, so good. I’m not going to do jumping jacks tonight because you pitch one good game. We’re in this for the long haul, and we’ve just got to continue to work.”
Four scoreless innings, stepping up to preserve the bullpen, and even earning the save, was a great start to the Lowe Era in pinstripes. It was one appearance, and Lowe will pitch in bigger spots down the stretch, but there is optimism that he will be anything but a desperate signing.
“Outstanding sinker tonight is what I saw,” said Joe Girard. “He may not have the velocity that he used to have, but he’s got an outstanding sinker and a slider and he got a lot of groundball outs tonight. That’s the Derek Lowe I remember.”
Lowe joked he was throwing the “speed limit” by the ninth inning. It didn’t matter, for he mixed pitches, changed speeds and showed deception made famous by Sun Tzu that convinced the Yankees – for one night anyway – that they have a versatile weapon out of the bullpen. If it were up to him, Lowe would pitch every day, but expect the Yankees to hold him until probably Game 1 against his old friends from Boston Friday night to help him get his bearings and do some work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
But for that one night, Lowe basked in the glow of a successful return, which ended immediately after he met the media for a postgame conversation. One game does not make a comeback, especially in this town, but Lowe at the very least showed how and why he’s capable of a memorable last ride.
"You want to go out there and see results,” Lowe said. “This is a results game.”
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC