Derek Lowe gives Yankees instant relief

Newly aquired pitcher Derek Lowe pitches in relief Newly aquired pitcher Derek Lowe pitches in relief against the Texas Rangers. (Aug. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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If Derek Lowe had thought he hadn't fixed what needed fixing, he still would be watching baseball from his couch, as he was last week, and not from the Yankees' bullpen, as he did last night.

But he believes he rediscovered his delivery, so now he's gripping a sinkerball instead of a remote control.

Lowe signed with the Yankees Monday, three days after being released by the Indians, and earned a four-inning save in the Yankees' 8-2 win over the Rangers Monday night.

The 39-year-old righthander was 8-10 with a 5.52 ERA with Cleveland and had struggled since getting off to a 6-1 start with a 2.05 ERA.

"I'm not going to go back if I can't figure out what I have to change,'' Lowe said before the game. "I'm not going to go keep pitching the way I was.''

He certainly didn't in his Yankees debut. Lowe relieved David Phelps to start the top of the sixth with the Yankees leading 5-2 and tossed four scoreless innings for his first save since Aug. 12, 2001. He threw 33 of his 44 pitches for strikes, allowed two hits, walked none and struck out four. "It couldn't have gone any better,'' Lowe said. "I'm not going to lie to you and say I'm not going to sleep with a smile tonight. It's a pretty fun way to start your career here.''

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Lowe's fastball topped out in the high 80s Monday night and gradually declined. "I'm not going to lie to you,'' he said. "I think I was throwing below the speed limit in that last inning.''

"He may not have the velocity that he used to have, but he's got an outstanding sinker and a slider,'' Joe Girardi said. "He got a lot of ground-ball outs, and that's the Derek Lowe I remember.''

Lowe recently spent time in Florida tinkering with his delivery, something he has done throughout his career. He focused on his deception and arm angle. "I had to get back to hiding the ball a little bit better, and so far, so good,'' Lowe said. "I'm not going to do jumping jacks tonight because I pitched one good game. We're in this thing for the long haul.''

Girardi said Lowe, who has 86 saves -- including 42 for the 2000 Red Sox -- initially will be used in long relief but wouldn't rule out changing his role.

Yankees fans may best remember Lowe from his time with Boston, notably 2004. He started and won all three series-clinching games in the postseason as the Red Sox earned their first world championship in 86 years. Lowe allowed one run in six innings and won ALCS Game 7 against the Yankees, completing a historic comeback, and won Game 4 of the World Series to complete the sweep of the Cardinals.

Lowe said the crowd had nothing but nice things to say to him Monday night -- assuming they actually were talking to him. "I heard people saying, 'Derek, I love you,' '' Lowe said. "I don't know if that's for me or for Jeter.''

For Cleveland, Lowe's bullpen sessions had become so poor that he opted to stop throwing them. In the final few weeks of his struggles with the Indians, he said the ball felt as if it were "coming out like mashed potatoes.''

"I wish I had a better analogy,'' he said. "I'm better than mashed potatoes.''

Monday night, it was all gravy.

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