Lowell turned out to be the real deal
If nothing else, Mike Lowell has a sense of humor about the circumstances that brought him to Boston. There are no delusions here. Just a sense of perspective and acceptance and - in his mind - a chance to garner some laughs.
"I was the throw-in in the deal," Lowell said yesterday of the trade that brought him to Boston along with Josh Beckett from Florida for Hanley Ramírez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey Garcia, and Jesus Delgado. "They needed Josh Beckett. They needed to get a top righthanded pitcher, and I don't think the Red Sox after the '05 season were like, 'Lowell has to be in that deal for us to take Beckett.' "
That, of course, takes into consideration the kind of year Lowell had in 2005, when his average sank to .236. But he was traded to Boston and in two seasons has established a reputation for professionalism, humor, and an ability - especially in 2007 - to knock in runs.
Like the second, and winning, run in last night's 2-1 victory over the Rockies in Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park. His double, the only extra-base hit for the Red Sox last night after they pounded out eight in Game 1, drove in David Ortiz from second base in the fifth inning. Lowell also scored the Sox' first run (on a sacrifice fly by Jason Varitek in the fourth inning) after a heady base-running play, going from first to third on a single by J.D. Drew to right field.
"I saw [the ball] going a little bit toward center," Lowell said. "I figured, hey, man, 1-0, one out, I was going to go. I was figuring a perfect throw was what it was going to take to throw me out. I think he made a perfect throw as it was, but I was fortunate to get in there. Tek did a great job right after that getting a sac fly. I think it pushed a little bit of the momentum on our side."
That's a hand in both Red Sox runs in what could be - if the Sox sweep - Lowell's final game at Fenway Park.
"I'd rather not [talk about that]," said the free agent to be before last night's game. "I'm really focused on the World Series. I think the offseason is the offseason. I'll tackle that when it comes. But it's really the farthest thing from my mind right now. I think this Game 2 is the most important thing that we should be thinking about personally and collectively."
Lowell has become the No. 5 hitter the Red Sox searched for in the offseason, the kind of protection for Manny Ramírez that the Sox thought they were getting when they signed Drew for $70 million to play right field and bat fifth. But as Drew struggled offensively, Lowell picked up the offensive slack.
And he has been just as effective in the postseason, with seven of his 14 hits going for extra bases (six doubles, one home run) and 12 RBIs in 12 games. That's what will make it so difficult when the team heads to Colorado.
One of the biggest bats in the Red Sox' order - Kevin Youkilis, Ortiz, or Lowell - will be headed to the bench when the Sox play under National League rules in Coors Field and the designated hitter disappears. It won't be an easy decision for manager Terry Francona, though the health of Ortiz's ailing right knee will be a factor in how much he can play in the field.
"When it really comes down to the reality of it, two out of the three play, and it's really disappointing because we like when all three of them play," Francona said. "They've all been mainstays in our lineup. They all do different things. There's going to be some things we have to think about that we don't know yet, and it's no big secret because we're not there."
But that doesn't matter for now. Game 2 is done, won by Lowell, as he boosts his résumé heading into an offseason of free agency.
"Good for me," he said with a laugh.
"I don't look at it that way, though," he said. "I look at it as I want to win a World Series. I've been very fortunate."