Gomes, who came into the game in the bottom of the eighth as a pinch hitter for Mike Carp, was able to influence Boston’s win with both his glove and his bat in the short amount of time he played.
The chances of Gomes contributing in the bottom of the ninth seemed slim, as the Red Sox trailed by five runs, and he was due up eighth in the inning. But Boston conjured up some more Fenway Park late-inning magic, and he had a chance to tie the game with runners on first and second with only one out.
His at-bat didn’t start well, as he watched two strikes go by. But he worked the count back in his favor after a borderline fastball on the outside part of the plate was called a ball. Gomes made the most of the opportunity, hitting a 3-2 fastball up the middle for a base hit. More importantly for Boston, his hit drove in the Sox’ fifth run of the ninth inning and tied the game.
“I just got to get up there and simplify things,” Gomes said. “He [Yoervis Medina] pitched us tough, stayed on the edges. I was able to work him to 3-2. … Double play [was] worst-case scenario. Anything else, at least we get another crack at it with one out. Just trying to put the ball in play to get a knock.”
Before his key at-bat, Gomes made two key defensive plays in left field that helped keep the Red Sox’ deficit at five runs. The first defensive gem came when he played a Michael Saunders ball off the Green Monster perfectly and threw out Kendrys Morales at third base. He then went on to end the Mariners’ attempt to tack on some more runs with a leaping catch of an Endy Chavez fly ball before crashing into the standings on the Green Monster.
“That’s microwave baseball right there, pretty instant,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, we’re not going to stop playing. I’m not going to go over there and stop playing defense. I was trying to keep the double play in order by throwing the guy out at third, and if I had an opportunity to get up on that wall with two outs to end the inning, I’m going to do it [and] give the guys a crack at it in the bottom of the ninth.”
Gomes hit the wall hard, but he got right back up and jogged off the field.
“It was just kind of evaluate your body parts real quick, just to see if anything’s shaking and rattling,” he said. “Just gather yourself for a second and head into the dugout and try to get a game-winning hit.”
While his hit in the ninth was not the game-winner, it was just another in a series of productive pinch-hit at-bats for the Red Sox this season. He has had 20 pinch-hit attempts this season and has reached base in 11 of them. He has also sent Boston home as the winner on two occasions, with walk-off home runs on June 18 and July 3.
Thursday, it was Daniel Nava‘s turn for the walk-off, one night after Stephen Drew sent the Red Sox home as winners in the 15th inning. Nava’s single was the 11th walk-off hit for Boston this season, so it no longer comes as a surprise to Gomes when his team pulls off a comeback.
“I don’t think it shocked anyone, to tell you the truth,” he said. “Like I said, we’ve done it a whole bunch. I don’t think we learned anything from this. If this was our first time, it’d be a nice character boost and build a little home-field advantage, but it’s kind of par for the course with what we’ve been doing this year.”
Eleven walk-off wins is certainly one way to leave a mark in Boston.
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