SERIES: AL championship series Game 5; tied, 2-2.
Derek Lowe doesn’t know why, but he has been nearly unbeatable at Fenway Park this season.
Lowe, who boasts an 11-2 mark with a 3.21 ERA at home this year, was originally scheduled to pitch Game 6 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. However, a rainout Sunday allowed Boston manager Grady Little to shuffle his rotation, and Lowe will instead get a chance to take the mound in a more friendly environment.
Lowe was just 6-5 with a 6.11 ERA in 16 road starts this year.
“Just happened to be this year where the numbers are so different,” Lowe said of the disparity.
“I really enjoy pitching on the road. I enjoy the challenge of trying to win in other people’s ballparks, but there is something to be said about pitching at home, especially when you’re in the playoffs with a crowd.”
In the postseason, Lowe has made just one appearance at Fenway, yielding one run and six hits over seven strong innings in Boston’s 11-inning, 3-1 victory over Oakland in Game 3 of the AL division series on Oct. 4. That performance sparked the Red Sox to a comeback from an 0-2 deficit against the Athletics, and Lowe closed out the series with three big outs in the ninth inning of Game 5.
Lowe took the loss in Game 2 of this series in New York on Thursday. He allowed six runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings of a 6-2 loss that evened the series at 1-1.
New York went on to win the next game also with Saturday’s wild 4-3 victory, before Boston bounced back in Game 4.
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who replaced John Burkett in the rotation, followed up a brilliant Game 1 performance by limiting the Yankees to just one run over seven-plus innings. He struck out eight and benefitted from solo homers by Todd Walker and Trot Nixon as Boston evened the series with a 3-2 victory.
“Tim Wakefield has been a big-game guy for them,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
The Yankees will send David Wells to the hill in Game 5. Wells, originally slated to pitch Game 4, was pushed back due to the rainout. Mike Mussina started in his place and surrendered three runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings, striking out 10.
Mussina has suffered all three of the Yankees’ losses during the playoffs.
“I can only control 60 feet, 6 inches,” he said. “That’s it. I’m doing my job the best I can. Other stuff has to be attended to by other people, not me.”
New York has not lost consecutive postseason games this year. Wednesday’s defeat was the Yankees’ first in four playoff road games.
Game 6 is Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Game 2 winner Andy Pettitte is slated to oppose Burkett.
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Yankees - 2B Alfonso Soriano (.290, 38, 91, 114 runs, 35 steals, 130 Ks), SS Derek Jeter (.324, 10, 52), 1B Jason Giambi (.250, 41, 107, 129 BBs, 140 Ks), CF Bernie Williams (.263, 15, 64), C Jorge Posada (.281, 30, 101), LF Hideki Matsui (.287, 16, 106, 42 doubles), DH Nick Johnson (.284, 14, 47, 70 BBs in 96 games), 3B Aaron Boone (.254, 6, 31, 8 steals), RF Karim Garcia (.262, 11, 35). Red Sox - CF Johnny Damon (.273, 12, 67), 2B Walker (.283, 13, 85), SS Nomar Garciaparra (.301, 28, 105, 120 runs), LF Manny Ramirez (.325, 37, 104), DH David Ortiz (.288, 31, 101), 1B Kevin Millar (.276, 25, 96), RF Nixon (.306, 28, 87), 3B Bill Mueller (AL-leading .326, 19, 85), C Jason Varitek (.273, 25, 85).
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (15-7, 4.14 ERA). The left-hander came up big in his first start of the postseason, clinching the ALDS against Minnesota by yielding one run and eight hits over 7 2-3 strong innings in an 8-1 victory at the Metrodome on Oct. 5. Wells is 9-2 lifetime in the playoffs, but has not pitched well against the Red Sox during his career. He is 14-20 with a 4.96 ERA in 49 appearances, including 36 starts, against Boston. However, he did shut the Red Sox down in his last start against them, pitching New York to a key 3-1 victory at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 7 that gave the Yankees the season series edge over Boston 10-9.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (17-7, 4.47). Lowe is 6-7 with five saves and a 5.22 ERA in 34 career appearances, including 10 starts, against New York. He went 2-0 with a 5.55 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this year, beating them 10-5 at Fenway on Aug. 29, when he permitted five runs and five hits over six innings.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - LHP Wells was 7-2 with a 3.36 ERA in 15 road appearances, including 14 starts, this year. … SS Jeter went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in Game 4, and is hitting .355 for the series. … OF Matsui is 6-for-11 with two doubles and six RBIs against RHP Lowe. Red Sox - 2B Walker hit his fifth postseason homer Monday to establish a new franchise record. Both SS Garciaparra and John Valentin had four apiece during the 1999 playoffs. … C Varitek is batting .302 (13-for-43) with four homers and 10 RBIs in his career against Wells. … Lowe was 5-2 with a 4.44 ERA in nine day starts this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 51-29 on the road in regular season, 3-1 in postseason. Red Sox - 53-28 at home in regular season, 3-1 in postseason.