Making his Yankees debut and his first relief appearance since 2007, Derek Lowe notched his first save in 11 years by throwing four scoreless innings in the Bombers’ 8-2 win over the Rangers on Monday.
It was Lowe’s 86th career save. The first 85 all came with the Red Sox from 1998-2001. He moved into the rotation on a permanent basis in 2002 and had made just one relief appearance in the 11 years since.
The Yankees signed Lowe to pitch in middle relief, but he looked so good tonight that they allowed him to just keep going and finish the game. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out four in his four frames. 33 of his 44 pitches went for strikes.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees do if Lowe continues to succeed as a long man. He’s still stretched out to start, and though the Yankees wouldn’t necessarily need him in that role if CC Sabathia returns later this month as hoped, he does give them options.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.