Gomes once again delivers in the clutch

Gomes once again delivers in the clutch
July 19, 2014, 12:45 am
Share This Post

Jonny Gomes watches the go-ahead home run that he hit on Friday against the Royals.

(AP Photo)

BOSTON - Jonny Gomes loves the Big Moment. One came his way in the sixth inning at Fenway Friday night, and as is his habit, he made the most of it. As Kansas City lefty Scott Downs came into the game with the Royals clinging to a one-run lead, Gomes was called upon to pinch-hit for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Gomes waited for a pitch to hit and got one to drive into the center field bleachers, putting the Red Sox ahead for the first time -- and to stay - in a thrilling, 5-4 comeback win.

It was the second pinch-hit homer for the Red Sox, both of them hit by Gomes. It was also the sixth pinch-hit homer for the outfielder in a Red Sox uniform in a little more than a season and a half.

"He stays prepared and anticipates the moment,'' said John Farrell of the heroics from Gomes. "I think, more than anything, his swing is built for Fenway Park. Even though tonight's ball goes out to dead center, we've seen a number of them go to the pull side. One of the reasons we targeted him last year is the way his swing is built and how it would fit this ballpark. And I think in those situations, he's been able to take advantage.

"But more importantly, I think it's how he stays prepared prior to the situation.''

"For me,'' offered Gomes, "that's the opportunity I have to feast on. Knowing they've got two lefties in the bullpen, that at-bat technically started for me about 2 p.m. today. When my number's called on, I have to feast on the opportunity. I just stayed with that center-to-right center approach and I was able to get some good wood on it.''

Beyond his penchant for delivering off the bench, Gomes has a history of success against the Royals, with 14 homers in 93 at-bats.

"That's kind of irrelvant, to tell you the truth,'' insisted Gomes. "I'm the guy that stands for team 'W's' versus individual stuff.''

But Gomes wouldn't deny that he looks forward to opportunities that allow him to do what he accomplished with the game on the line.

"I wouldn't say I thrive,'' he said. "To tell you the truth, it's something I have to do. You take that away from my tools and what I bring to the club, you might not be seeing much of No. 5. So it's one of my tasks, one of my jobs that I have here and I just have to do my best to [have] success in that role.''

There was more than a little irony in the fact that Gomes hit the game-winner against a club which has been rumored to have some interest in obtaining him for the stretch run. CBSSports.com last week said the Royals have targeted Gomes as a potential acquisition.

"Over nine years in this game, I've dealt with over nine years of trade deadlines,'' said Gomes. "That's irrelevant to me.''

Instead, for Gomes, the homer may have served to remind the Red Sox of the value in keeping him and hoping the Sox can make a second-half run.

"It's Game One of the second half,'' said Gomes. "Let's get this thing going north as fast as possible. Before the break and first day after the break, our goal hasn't changed. Our goal is still win the division and win that last game of the year.

"Obviously, we understand the date and we understand that we've dug ourselves a hole a little bit. We're not trying to turn the corner by any means; we're just trying to win as many games as we can.''

That's Gomes' focus, not the fact that he's now within one of Ted Williams for most career pinch-hit homers in Red Sox history.

"You can go ahead and get it out there, I'm not chasing any of Ted Williams' records,'' cracked Gomes. "To break it all down, I'm just extremely fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to wear the same uniform that guy wore. Individual records don't matter. I'm here trying to collect championships.''