10/07/08 3:40 AM ET
Hero role suits Lowrie just fine
Shortstop gets revenge after lining out in extras of Game 3
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
And that's precisely how he became one after hitting a walk-off single to give the Red Sox a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Monday night and send Boston on to the AL Championship Series.
The rookie Lowrie took a simple approach to the plate against Halos reliever Scot Shields in the ninth inning.
"Get a good pitch to hit," Lowrie said of that approach. "Shields is one of the best setup guys in the game, and I'm just looking for a good pitch to hit."
A simple approach, sure. But this was hardly a simple situation.
The Red Sox had the go-ahead run on second, but two men were out, and Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira had just made a sensational grab of a Mark Kotsay liner. It was the type of play that reeks of momentum-squashing.
|Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie is just the fourth rookie in Major League history to end a postseason series with a walk-off hit.|
|Jed Lowrie||2008||Red Sox|
And Lowrie had a fresh memory of how an opportunity to be a hero can go wrong. He lined out with the bases loaded to make the final out of the 10th inning in Game 3 on Sunday.
This time, though, Lowrie went looking for a Shields curveball -- the very pitch Shields had tossed Lowrie three times to strike him out the previous night in the eighth inning. And when Lowrie got it on the first pitch, he smacked it on the ground to the right side.
"I wasn't sure [it would get through] when I hit it," Lowrie said. "I saw it roll through the infield, saw [second baseman Howie Kendrick's] break on it. Once I saw it pass the mound, I had a pretty good idea it was a hit."
It was a hit, all right. And as Jason Bay came bolting home from second, Lowrie was a hero.
Lowrie didn't exactly come into this series on a hero's pace. He hit just .213 (17-for-80) in September.
And the first run of this series, like the last run, was Lowrie's responsibility. He booted Vladimir Guerrero's third-inning grounder in Game 1. What should have been the third out of that inning instead led to the Angels' first run.
Lowrie, who didn't make an error at short in 155 chances this season, could have let that miscue misguide him. Instead, he put it in the past, where it belonged.
"Baseball is a hard game," said Lowrie, who assumed his job when Julio Lugo went down with a torn left quad this summer. "It's just about maintaining that steady approach. In September, I felt I had some good at-bats, even though I scuffled a little bit. I just know myself as a player and know what I can handle."
The Red Sox, by entrusting Lowrie with the starting shortstop duties, have asked him to handle a lot this season. And his teammates have been impressed with the way he's done so.
"You wouldn't know he's 24," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "He's got this presence about him that he's going to succeed. And that's huge at this level."
Now that he came up with a huge walk-off hit, Lowrie is no doubt forever etched in Red Sox postseason lore. And his October moment falls in line with a Boston team that, in recent years, seems to pass down a winning mentality to its younger players.
"I feel like I know myself as a player," Lowrie said. "I can play with that confidence. You feed off everybody else in the clubhouse and their emotions."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.