04/27/2002 6:17 pm ET
Devil Rays have 'no-no' answers against Lowe
By Mike Petraglia / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Derek Lowe did to Tampa Bay Saturday what Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield couldn't.
The Red Sox right-hander, who was converted to a starting role last September, became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Devil Rays in Boston's 10-0 win at Fenway Park. It was also the first no-hitter in Boston since Red Sox right-hander Dave Morehead accomplished the feat Sept. 16, 1965 against Cleveland.
A walk to Brent Abernathy leading off the third was all that kept Lowe from throwing the first perfect game in the 90-year history of Fenway.
"I do know that after that at-bat (third inning walk)," said the Rays second baseman, "I knew it was going to be a long day simply because he had unbelievable movement on his sinker today. I saw five sinkers in that at-bat alone. It was ridiculous how much he had it moving today.
"You're trying anything you can to jinx him," added Abernathy. "The old superstition in baseball comes into play. Every time someone comes up to the plate, from the sixth inning on, that's all you're thinking about, trying to break it up. But once you've gone that long, it's tough because everyone starts pressing."
Twice before Saturday, Tampa Bay spoiled no-hit bids by Red Sox pitchers in the ninth inning.
On Aug. 29, 2000, Martinez held Tampa Bay hitless at Tropicana Field before John Flaherty led off the final frame with a single to right field.
Then, on June 18, 2001, again played in St. Petersburg, Randy Winn began a four-run rally with a single off Wakefield to break up the knuckleballer's attempt.
Those two games had marked the closest any opposing pitcher had come to a no-hitter. But on this chilly, sunny April day, the Devil Rays, on enemy turf, would have no such ninth-inning luck.
Russ Johnson lined a soft liner to second for the first out. Felix Escalona, getting the start for Chris Gomez, lofted a fly to left-center. Rickey Henderson got a good jump and recorded the second out, setting the stage for Jason Tyner.
Tampa Bay's leadoff hitter hit a grounder on Lowe's 98th pitch of the day, a grounder that took an odd, last-second short-hop. But Rey Sanchez fielded it cleanly and threw on to Jose Offerman for the game's final out.
"I had a good pitch to hit, actually," said Tyner. "It was a strike and over the plate but I rolled (the swing) over and pulled it."
Only twice on the afternoon did Tampa Bay batters threaten Lowe's day of destiny. Randy Winn hit a long fly to left-center that Henderson tracked down for the second out of the game.
"If the wind wasn't blowing in there," said Lowe, "There's no doubt that ball is off the wall. But it hung up and Rickey bailed me out there."
The other tense moment came in the fourth when Steve Cox got a change-up to hit, only to have Trot Nixon make a running catch toward the right field line.
"He didn't leave many pitches up all day," said Cox, "but he left a change up and I got a good swing. But Nixon always catches everything I hit out there."
"You've got to tip your cap to him," said Abernathy. "For crying out loud, we hit two balls hard the whole day. You know a guy's on top of his game when there's that few balls hit solidly. He changed speeds unbelievably well. It seemed like every time we were looking in for the sinker, he went away and every time we looked away, he came in with it."
"I think no-hitters are a combination of good hitting and bad hitting. He definitely pitched well and we definitely didn't hit well. I don't want to take anything away from him, he was in total control."
Hal McRae took one look at his club's upcoming schedule Saturday and came to a general conclusion.
"We need to be rested because we have a stretch of games that will be tough," said the forward-thinking Rays skipper. "There are about 30 games coming up and our only chance (to compete) is to be rested."
With the immediate future in mind, McRae said Saturday that he will continue his staggered rotation of rest, giving Ben Grieve a day off Thursday against Minnesota while Jason Tyner will get a day off Monday, the series opener at the Metrodome.
Every player, coach, manager or fan that has ever been to Fenway Park has a favorite memory of the oldest park in the Majors.
McRae is no exception.
"I remember hitting a grand slam here off John Tudor," recalled McRae. "It was sliced down the right field line and hit off the (foul) pole. This is a unique park, the most unique in baseball. That's what makes it so much fun to play here."
Mike Petraglia is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.