Gomes continues to be offensive sparkplug

Gomes continues to be offensive sparkplug
October 4, 2013, 11:00 pm
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BOSTON – To look only at Jonny Gomes’ numbers this season – a .247 average, .236 against left-handers – with just 67 starts, or his 0-for-7 in two career postseason games, it might not seem a start in the Game 1 of the Red Sox American League Division Series against the Rays was warranted, against Matt Moore, a dominant left-handed pitcher.
 
But, that would be to overlook who Jonny Gomes is, and what he has meant to the Red Sox this season -- as he demonstrated for much of the regular season and continues to do in the postseason.
 
On Friday, Gomes went 1-for-4, with a double, a walk, two runs scored and two RBI, once again playing the role of catalyst, as the Sox pummeled the Rays, 12-2. His two-run double in the Sox’ five-run fourth inning with the Sox trailing by two tied the game, scoring Dustin Pedroia, whose lead-off single was the Sox first hit of the game, and David Ortiz, who followed with a ground-rule double.  Two batters later Gomes scored the go-ahead run on Stephen Drew’s infield single, giving the Sox a lead they did not relinquish.
 
In the Sox’ three-run fifth, after an intentional walk, Gomes scored from first base on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s double off the Wall.
 
Gomes has been a sparkplug for the Sox for much of the season.
 
“One, he’s a smart baseball player,” said manager John Farrell. “In some ways, with some guys you can take numbers and put them aside. Johnny is one of those. Whether it’s inside of a rally, which he’s been a big part of late in the game, where he’s had some big hits for us.
 
“Today was the reason why Johnny chose to come to Boston. And he demonstrated why this is where he wants to play. And he fits what we do so well. And the way he goes about the game rubs off on other players in our clubhouse.”
 
“You know, once the playoffs start, everything is a clean slate,” Gomes said. “No longer it’s the best team, it’s the hottest team. And we obviously know Tampa is coming in hot, coming in on a roll. So, it took a couple of innings to break the ice, but once Pedey gets that hit up the middle, I think that took a lot of questions out. And then Ortiz’s big hit, runner on third, less than two [out] just trying to elevate the ball. Got that and scored both. And a little hustle play on second to take the lead.”
 
Gomes credits Mike Napoli, despite popping out just before Gomes’ fourth-inning double, with allowing Gomes to see enough of Moore’s offerings to prepare for his own at-bat.
 
“You see nine hitters, and we all work together,” Gomes said. “Napoli didn’t get it done, but I think he saw [five] pitches. I don’t know if he tired out Matt or what, but from the on-deck circle I was able to see [enough] pitches and it allowed me to jump on the first two.”
 
Gomes’ sprint from second base in the fourth was reminiscent of Opening Day in Yankee Stadium, when  he dashed home from second on an infield single in the ninth inning of the Sox’ win over the Yankees.
 
“Yeah, we were talking about that right when I got in the dugout,” he said. “You don’t get 97 wins throughout 162 [games] by waiting for the three-run homer. We generate some runs anyway possible. And it’s not just my hustle from second. That hustle is definitely erased if Stephen Drew doesn’t hustle to first. So, it’s double hustle and we were able to touch the plate and get a run on the board.”