Wrigley's winds don't rattle Lowe
Dodgers starter doesn't care which way flags are blowing
CHICAGO -- Derek Lowe knows that there are really two Wrigley Fields.
There is the pitcher's park version that occurs when the wind is blowing in off Lake Michigan.
And there is the hitter's haven that happens when the wind blows out. It's the sort of thing that happened back on May 17, 1979, when the Phillies beat the Cubs, 23-22.
"I've been very fortunate to only see this park as a pitcher's park," Lowe said. "I've seen it as a hitter's park on TV. But I think you're setting yourself up for a negative feeling if the first thing I do tomorrow is go outside and see the wind. And if it's blowing out, then I feel like I can't pitch a good game. If it is, it is."
That kind of attitude is one of the reasons Dodgers manager Joe Torre tapped Lowe to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series at 3:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday. After all, Torre has seen firsthand how Lowe pitches in big games, as his Yankees lost to Lowe and the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series.
"He certainly has never shied away from that responsibility," Torre said of Lowe. "The thing I noticed when he takes the ball, he goes out there and he just pitches his heart out. I think he's showed us a lot of leadership. Again, he's jut one of those blue-collar guys. And right now, I think he's at the top of his game."
Lowe is certainly pitching well. The right-hander was 6-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his final 10 starts, which includes a 3-0, 0.59 ERA in five September outings.
While his teammates flew to Chicago on Monday, Lowe left from San Francisco on Sunday night. The extra rest was helpful to Lowe, who has been under the weather.
"It's just a normal flu," said Lowe, who added that he's been feeling better. "I'm happy I don't have to worry about that come tomorrow night because you don't want anything negative hurting your body."
This will be Lowe's fifth start at Wrigley Field and his second in 2008. Overall, he is 1-0 with a 2.67 ERA, which includes seven shutout innings earlier this year. His lone win was a one-hitter on Aug. 31, 2005.
Having faced Cubs hitters twice this year, Lowe is familiar with them, which could help him. On the flip side, the Chicago hitters certainly know what he features.
"I think when you've played the years I've been fortunate to play, there's no secrets," the 12-year veteran said. "You can ask any hitter over there what am I going to throw and they can tell you and, vice versa, I know what they're going to do. I think that's the beauty of the playoffs. It comes down to maybe making that adjustment. It comes down to execution and who does it better will ultimately win."
Lowe's experience pitching at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium with the Red Sox is a plus, as the crowd at Wrigley Field figures to be every bit as passionate and every bit as loud.
"I've always enjoyed pitching here, just from the standpoint of the atmosphere," Lowe said. "It's such a baseball town, it's such a baseball atmosphere and I know [Wednesday] will be a little bit more intense than the other days. On the visiting team, you know it's going to be tough. I think personally, this is probably my favorite place to play on the road."
Another reason Torre selected Lowe to start Game 1 is that if the Dodgers decide to use just three starters, the manager felt Lowe would be the one best suited to start Game 4 on three days' rest.
In his career, Lowe has started on three days' rest four times and is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA in those games. Right now, though, he is more focused on Wednesday's start than a possible outing Sunday.
"We've discussed that," he said. "But again, to worry about Sunday is probably a little bit too far down the line. If we do get to that situation, it's not going to be a problem. I've been very fortunate to have been able to do that numerous times in my career and not had any problem. If we get to that situation, I'd love to be able to pitch Game 4, but clearly my focus is on the first pitch [Wednesday]."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.