May 15, 2012 – Derek Lowe Throws Complete Game Shutout without Recording a Strikeout
Derek Lowe had long been known as a ground-ball pitcher who relied on his strong sinker. That sinker carried him through a 16-year MLB career and ensured that he would never buy a drink in Boston after a 3-0 playoff record in the Red Sox’s historic 2004 World Series run.
Game 36 of 2013 was perhaps the purest distillation of Lowe’s style. Against a Twins team that was scuffling on offense and had been particularly inept against ground-ball pitchers, Lowe induced 20 ground-ball outs including four double-plays.
He was supported with RBI singles in the second and third by Casey Kotchman and Asdrubal Cabrera, respectively. Things got out of hand for Twins starter Jason Marquis in the top of the 5th. He gave up solo home runs to Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Carlos Santana to bring the score to 5-0.
Lowe cruised through the Twins lineup. In the 5th, 6th, and 9th all three outs came on ground balls. He threw 127 pitches, 76 of which were strikes.
Other pitchers have made the transition from starter to closer, but few have done it as seamlessly as Lowe. Only John Smoltz, Dennis Eckersley, and Derek Lowe have more than 160 wins and more than 80 saves.
In a post-game interview, a reporter observed that his season strikeout total (13) was nearly matched by his double-play count (10). Lowe quipped, “If all goes well, I should get to 40 [strikeouts] by the end of the year.”
Later in the 2012 season, Lowe was designated for assignment in order to make a roster spot for a young ground-ball pitcher with a wicked sinker–Corey Kluber.