Before every game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, a player from the visiting team is chosen to be the “Toft’s Strikeout Player of the Game.” Each time that player whiffs, Mud Hens fans who scream the loudest get free Toft’s Ice Cream delivered to their seats.
(photo courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat)
On Tuesday night, Toledo front office staffers chose Mike Lowell as the Toft’s K-man. The four-time All-Star didn’t strike out, so nobody got free ice cream.
Instead, Lowell belted three home runs in Pawtucket’s 10-6 win.
“They basically screamed it in my face my first time up and when I got one strike, everybody was really rooting for me to strike out,” Lowell said with a grin. “I feel sorry for the people of Toledo, but they were rooting for me to strike out so bad, that maybe the baseball Gods took care of me.”
Lowell tied the PawSox single-game record with 3 HR, becoming the 18th player in Pawtucket history to accomplish the feat. The 36-year-old veteran also hit 3 HR in a major league game on April 21, 2004 with the Florida Marlins.
“I don’t really care if it’s Tee Ball or Little League, that’s a good feeling,” Lowell said. “Big picture – I’m happy that I’m swinging the bat well and I was seeing the ball very well, but it’s still a thrill. A home run is good at any level, so this is still a special day for me. I’ve only done it one other time in my life, so it felt really good.”
In four games on his rehab stint, Lowell is 8-for-18 (.444) with 3 doubles, 3 HR, and 7 RBI.
Is he already locked in at the plate?
“I think I would be a little arrogant to say after a few days that I’m locked in – that would be a little extreme – but I do feel good at the plate, that’s for sure,” Lowell said. “It isn’t like I haven’t seen any baseball in four or five months, so I’ve had something to build on and I know how to make adjustments. But it feels good without a doubt.”
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Tuesday’s game marked the first time that Lowell has played at third base with the PawSox and he had no trouble with the only ground ball that was hit in his direction.
“Selfishly I would have liked to get more action,” Lowell said, “But you make quick movements when guys foul balls down the line, and I didn’t feel any pain or any sharp grinding like I felt in ’09. So that was positive.”
Lowell says the big night doesn’t change his rehab schedule and he expects to be back in Pawtucket’s starting lineup on Wednesday in Toledo. Terry Francona told reporters in Anaheim on Monday that there’s a good chance that Lowell will be activated by Boston on Friday when the team opens its next homestand.
He’ll be missed in the PawSox clubhouse where Lowell has treated his minor league teammates to several postgame feasts. Despite that generosity, the players gave Mike the silent treatment after one of his blasts on Tuesday.
“They didn’t want to shake my hand after the second home run, but I told them there would be no nice post-game spread tomorrow if they continued that,” Lowell said. “After the third one I was greeted with a lot of high fives, so it worked out well.”
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