Gomes gives Sox a walk-off with a kick

Gomes gives Sox a walk-off with a kick
June 19, 2013, 1:45 am
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BOSTON -- Games in June aren't supposed to end with punts. But when you take a mess of players who are equal parts overjoyed and exhausted, weird things happen. So this game ended with a punt.

Jonny Gomes sent a high-arcing homer toward the light tower and off of the AAA sign above the Monster in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Rays 3-1, and his celebration started as soon as he laid the black barrel of his bat on Joel Peralta's high 89-mph fastball.

Gomes strutted proudly out of the batter's box, knowing his team's more than 10-hour day at the ballpark was over. Then he raised one arm in triumph as he made his way around first.

Then came the punt.

After he touched third base, he removed his helmet with his right hand, lowered it and drop-kicked it in the direction of Van Ness Street before he touched home and was mobbed by his teammates.

"That was my best [Adam] Vinatieri impersonation," Gomes said, smiling. "I don't know if the Patriots are calling for a tryout. That's my Fenway punt."

Manager John Farrell said Gomes bailed the Red Sox out. That was certainly the case when it came to closer Andrew Bailey, who allowed a homer to Kelly Johnson in the ninth inning, turning a blown save into a win thanks to Gomes.

"To be where we are at the top of the standings, we have to pick each other up," Gomes said. "[Bailey]'s picked us up, we're going to pick him up. And we've done a great job of guys shining in the lineup covering for guys that have been struggling and vice versa. That's definitely the character we have in this clubhouse, everyone's picking one another up."

Gomes has been on both sides. He was signed in the offseason to be a regular in left field. Instead, he's hitting just .209/.327/.372 with five homers, and he's lost playing time to Daniel Nava, who has had a stellar first half and hit his 10th home run in the second inning.

"There's two people that aren't going to struggle this year," Gomes said. "One is going to be the MVP, the other is going to be Cy Young. Everyone else is going through peaks and valleys. If you've got 24 other guys picking up the guy who's down, you're going to be successful."

Gomes said it's a challenge to get his timing down given the number of at-bats he's received, and the irregularity with which they've come. But he's trying to make the most of them. On Tuesday, he struck out twice and flew out to center before homering.

"I'm in a situation where I can't get on hot streaks given my playing time, so I just gotta be ready when my name's called," he said. "With light at bats, sometimes it takes 2-3 at-bats to get on time. I thought my last three at-bats were better than the first."

He admitted, though, he grew more and more weary as the night cap went on. After a three-hour rain delay in the afternoon game against the Rays, it had turned into an endurance test at Fenway.

The clubhouse coffee was flowing, of course. Gomes said he couldn't measure in cups just how much he had consumed over the course of the day. Just enough to make him want to boot a helmet down the third base line after his walk-off homer.

"You never let the cup go to the end. All refills," he said. "Long day at the yard . . . Go home, pack, hopefully get one more and go out on the road."