BOSTON -- He has gray in his goatee and carries the wisdom of a 10-year veteran, with the experience of nearly having had baseball's version of the Grim Reaper on the doorstep of his career. Now, Mike Lowell is a part of Red Sox lore, and he's one step closer to helping bring a title back to Boston.
That's because Lowell's RBI double in the fifth inning gave the Boston Red Sox the lead for good in a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night in Game 2 of the World Series, sending Boston on the road with a 2-0 lead.
"He's been our guy all year," Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "They walk David [Ortiz] or Manny [Ramirez], Mike is there. We've relied on him in a lot of our key moments in the season, and he's come through in all of them."
Much will be made about whether this was Curt Schilling's last game at Fenway Park, but it also might have been Lowell's, who, at 33, will be a free agent this winter. After his go-ahead double, the crowd chanted "M-V-P!" -- and that certainly got the attention of the third baseman.
"I hear it all the time," Lowell said with a grin. "I love it. I hope they keep doing it."
To think, just two years ago, Lowell was unwanted by, well, nearly everyone. He was widely considered a throwaway in the six-player deal that sent Josh Beckett from the Florida Marlins to Boston in the winter of 2005. But without Lowell, there was no deal, the Marlins insisted. And so he arrived here, with everything to prove after a dismal 2005 season in which he hit .236 with just eight home runs and an on-base percentage of .298.
In 2006, though, he held his own, batting .284, driving in 80 runs and hitting 20 homers while replacing popular Bill Mueller at third base.
But this year was far different. How many people, at the beginning of the season, would have put money down in Las Vegas that it would be not Manny Ramirez nor David Ortiz, but Mike Lowell, who would lead the Red Sox with 120 RBIs during the regular season?
"This is a business of 'what have you done for me lately,' " Lowell said, "and I had one bad year, and everyone thought that the world was coming to an end. And I didn't. I didn't think my career was over."
No, and this year was by far his best. Not only did he lead the team in RBIs -- hitting in the fifth spot for most of the year behind Ortiz and Ramirez -- he also batted .324, which was the first time he eclipsed the .300 mark in his career.
"This year's been special; I'm not going to lie," said Lowell, who entertained waves of reporters while standing in his towel. "The RBIs, hitting over .300. -- I'm very proud of those. They've been goals of mine."
And on Thursday night, he sparked the offense once again, first drawing a walk in the fourth inning off Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez, then scoring on a sacrifice fly by Jason Varitek two hitters later for Boston's first run.
Lowell, who is bilingual and one of the game's most well-regarded players, has been a leader even more than a stat machine. Whether he will be back next season -- with the front office not keen on giving long contracts to aging players -- is undetermined. But his impact in Boston is undeniable.
"He's been a horse for us all year, consistent," manager Terry Francona said. "And I mean consistent from day one -- driving in a lot of runs, playing third base. He's just a really good player and probably a better person."
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com.