The Atlanta Braves led the National League East division for what seemed like the entire year until the Phillies caught fire this month and eventually won the division for the fourth-consecutive season. The Braves now find themselves leading the NL Wild Card race with the San Diego Padres and heading into a pivotal weekend series against division rival Philadelphia. Bobby Cox is trying to get them back to the playoffs one last time before he retires and for the first time since ’05. The Braves received some much needed help from the Chicago Cubs when they took three out of four from the Padres pushing San Diego three games back of the San Francisco Giants for the NL West race division title and two games behind Atlanta for a wild card berth. A big reason why the Braves are where they are at right now is because of Derek Lowe, who is 5-0 in the month of September with a 1.17 ERA, while the rest of the Atlanta rotation is just 4-11. It was good to see Derek Lowe rebound from a rocky season because his hefty contract no longer looks like an albatross around the Braves’ neck. All the Braves need to do is win one game against the Phillies and they will give Bobby Cox the retirement gift he has been waiting for, one last trip to the postseason.
Derek Lowe joined 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston to talk about how he has been able to pitch a lot of innings and make so many starts when lots of other players are unable to, Whether being in a pennant race like the Braves are now brings back memories, and what it has been like playing for Bobby Cox and where he ranks among the managers he has played for.
How he has been able to pitch a lot of innings and make so many starts when lots of other players are unable to:
“That is hard to say. I think a lot of it is definitely some luck involved. With that being said, I would have to say work ethic is number one. I am a firm believer in a very rigorous workout program in between your starts and that is something that I have learned with years. I am not going to say that in my earlier years in Boston I would have given you that same answer, but as the years have gone on that is the only way that you can consistently make starts. I think when you do that especially when you are talking about wins, those things will take care of itself if you are making those 32-34 starts a year, and you’re going to get some wins. Without a work ethic, without dedicating yourself to the game success is hard to come by over a long period of time.”
How he has never been on the Disabled List during his career as a starter:
“That is correct, just actually about 5 or 6 starts ago, I’ve had a bone chip in my elbow for god knows how long, 10 years, and it just kind of found its way in a spot that was kind of giving me a little trouble. I could have made a start in Florida and we just talked, and said, ‘Hey let’s just go ahead and give it an extra two or three days rest, so I have actually missed one turn, but yeah other than that I have been able to make every start.”
Whether being in a pennant race like the Braves are now brings back memories:
“Yeah it has been great. I have been very fortunate. I was talking with my wife last week, I have in my career I’ve been very fortunate to I believe never going more than one year without making the playoffs and that is with three different organizations. So this is a year where we didn’t make it last year so hopefully I can continue that trend. But yeah we are a game and a half back, we have three games this weekend coming up against the Phillies, we are not as bad as your team in Boston as far as the injuries go. We lost Chipper for a long time, Martin Prado one of our best hitters just went down a couple of days ago, he will be out. One of our strengths all year long has been our depth on our team and we have really good starting pitching and that is one of the reasons why we are still in this thing.” (Editor’s note: the interview took place before the Padres game. The Braves now have a 2 game lead in the Wild Card race.)
What it has been like playing for Bobby Cox and where he ranks among the managers he has played for:
“We have been talking a lot about Bobby. I think I’ve had nine different managers in my career and I would have to say that he is up near the top, with statistics aside, he is, when people say he is a player’s manager, I think he is a lot like Terry Francona, you will never hear him say a bad word about a guy. I think he believes in his players more than anyone that I have seen. You can struggle for such a long period of time, and the media is calling for a certain guy’s head, he believes in his players. He will give you so many opportunities to have success and the one thing that I like being a starter; he will give you every opportunity to win that game. For the people that don’t watch National League Baseball a lot, wins in the National League are a lot harder because you hit. When your at-bat comes up in the 5th, 6th inning and you are down 1 run, 2 runs, you are out of the game. He will do everything that he possibly can to give you a chance to win and that is something that is very special for starting pitchers, but it has been a great year to see how he has been received in every ballpark, every team has done something for him. We have a big weekend setup here, not only during the playoff chase, but to honor him. He has been great. He shows up to the park. He doesn’t want to be a distraction whatsoever and you have got to respect him for everything that he has done in his game.”
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Bobby Cox’s last year as manager of the Braves, Braves are leading the Wild Card race, Braves end regular season at home to celebrate Bobby Cox, Braves vs. Phillies, Derek Lowe, National League baseball, NL East, NL Wild Card, pennant race, starting pitcher for the Braves