Sox offense provides Lester plenty of support

Sox offense provides Lester plenty of support
May 3, 2014, 11:45 pm

BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes had a plan.

He knew he'd be in the lineup against A's lefty starter Tommy Milone on Saturday, and he knew he'd be aggressive.

"First at-bat in first inning to last at-bat in the eighth inning," Gomes said, "I swung at every single pitch I saw tonight."

Gomes' aggressiveness paid off early for the Sox in their 6-3 win. He swung at the first pitch he saw in the first inning, a curveball in the middle of the zone, and lifted it into the Monster seats for a grand slam that gave his team an early 4-0 lead.

The reason for Gomes' willingness to pounce: He spent the 2012 season with Oakland and got a good grasp on their pitching philosophy.

"Just from playing with the A's, knowing a lot of the guys over there, [pitching coach] Curt Young, [manager] Bob Melvin, the A's mentality is just pound the strike zone," said Gomes, who saw seven pitches in four at-bats. "I know that really helps them out in their ballpark. From having a little bit of that experience caused me to swing at every single pitch today."

The slam was Boston's second in as many days. Dustin Pedroia's 100th homer of his career brought home four against the A's in a 7-1 win on Friday.

What made Gomes' blast all the more important for the Red Sox was the cushion it provided starter Jon Lester. Boston had scored just 11 runs in support of Lester through the first month of the season.

To give Lester four runs in the first inning allowed him to throw without the worry that one mistake could cost him the game.

"Jonny gives us a huge lift in the first on one pitch he saw, the first pitch of the day," manager John Farrell said. "I think we’ve shown that when we score first and you get a start like that with Lester today, it puts you in command. Not that you’re ever taking anything for granted . . . But I think as the warm weather starts to descend here, guys are feeling a little bit more free and easy at the plate."

The Red Sox added to their lead when David Ortiz his a solo shot in the third inning on an 0-2 cutter from Milone that caught too much of the plate. The home run -- Ortiz's 437th of his career -- was just the sixth that Ortiz has hit on an 0-2 count. It was also Ortiz's 379th as a member of the Red Sox, tying him with Dwight Evans for fourth in franchise history.
 
David Ross contributed Boston's sixth and final run of the day with his solo home run over the Monster in the fourth inning.

Unlike Gomes, Ross -- who came into the day with a .167 batting average -- didn't carry with him a thought-out offensive strategy based on inside information.

"When you're hitting .167 there's not a whole lot of game plan up there," Ross said. "You're just trying to get a knock any way you can."
 
For a Red Sox offense that struggled through most of the first month of the season to string hits together and drive home runners in scoring position -- especially with Lester on the mound -- they gladly took runs however they can get them Saturday.