04/27/2002 7:44 pm ET
Lowe credits catcher for no-hitter
Varitek said Lowe shook him off only one time
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Though Derek Lowe put on what appeared to be a one-man show Saturday afternoon, there was another participant who helped make the first Fenway Park no-hitter since 1965 possible.
And Lowe wasn't about to let the effort of his long-trusted batterymate go unnoticed.
"I just put my game in [Jason Varitek's] hands," Lowe said. "I think that's what made it a little bit easier because I don't have to say, 'OK, what am I gonna throw? What did I throw him last time? He remembers this stuff. He knows how I'm throwing. He knows me so well, you can just kind of put it on cruise control and take his lead."
Varitek -- Boston's catcher -- is a leader by nature. And he's been working with Lowe for seven years.
Their careers have intertwined, beginning in 1995, the first of three years together in the Mariners' farm system.
Then, they came to the Red Sox July 31, 1997, in a package deal for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.
It seems as if their ups and downs have coincided.
Last year was Lowe's worst in the Majors, so it was somehow fitting that it was also a season Varitek would just as soon forget.
The rugged catcher fractured his elbow in June making a diving catch on a foul pop, and just like that, his season was over.
But Lowe (4-1, 2.04) and Varitek (.323 average) have both come back strong, helping to set the stage for Saturday's heroics.
Even the opposition noticed how smoothly the Boston battery was working.
"[Varitek] called a great game, he really helped him use both sides of the plate," said Devil Rays second baseman Brent Abernathy. "They really worked together in tandem out there, you could tell."
Varitek could tell, because Lowe's nods were almost exclusively north and south, instead of east and west.
"He shook me off one pitch," said Varitek. "Other than that, he pretty much nodded his head yes. It is more so just me understanding him than him just throwing whatever is put down."
It's called a seamless working relationship. One that helped stifle the Devil Rays.
Varitek also caught Hideo Nomo's no-hitter April 4, 2001, in Baltimore. The way Varitek saw it, Lowe had to walk more of a tightrope.
"It is really totally different because (Nomo) is a strikeout pitcher, as opposed to a groundball pitcher (Lowe). A lot of things have to go correctly for this to happen to Derek. Nomo can get through it with a lot of strikeouts. But to really compare them, they are two totally different mindsets."
By now, Lowe and Varitek almost feel as if they are of one mind.
"Jason called a great game," said Lowe. "I've been riding him for seven or eight years, ever since we started playing together in the minor leagues. I trust him as much as anybody."
That trust helped translate into a dream Saturday for both the pitcher and the catcher.
Damon sits out, Rickey shines
After feeling some tightness in his right hamstring during Friday night's victory, Sox center fielder Johnny Damon was held out of the lineup on Saturday.
"I think he's just going to rest me and not let me do anything, but I'm good to go if someone goes down and they really need me," said Damon. "This gives Rickey a day to go out there and play, and hopefully he'll get out there and have a big game and show us what leadoff men are supposed to do."
Damon proved to be prophetic.
Henderson smashed a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first to give Boston the lead they never surrendered in the 10-0 rout. It was Henderson's 80th career leadoff homer, which extended his already record-setting total.
"I still don't know this park," said the 43-year-old Henderson. "I didn't know it was a homer until I got near second base. I was still running when I found out it was (over the wall)."
Making a rare appearance in center field, Henderson also made the most dramatic defensive play of the day, running in to snare a sinking line drive for the second out in the ninth, to preserve Lowe's no-hitter.
The 15-6 Sox are now 7-0 when Henderson starts.
Henry sees this no-no up close
When Marlins righty A.J. Burnett fired a no-hitter last season, John Henry -- the Florida owner at the time -- didn't get to watch it. He took his wife out for a Saturday evening dinner instead. It was agonizing for Henry, since he almost never misses a game.
Now the principal owner of the Red Sox, Henry saw Lowe's gem up close and personal.
"That was the most nervous I've ever been any game, anywhere, in the ninth inning," Henry said. "I could barely stand to watch. It was just tremendous."
Ian Browne covers the Red Sox for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.