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Running wild: Gomez makes presence felt

Dealing with mild intercostal strain, center fielder homers, runs ball down in second start since Sept. 12

NEW YORK -- Carlos Gomez announced his return to the lineup in grand fashion.

Gomez, starting for just the second time since Sept. 12 because of a mild intercostal strain, led off the fourth inning with a homer off Masahiro Tanaka to help the Astros beat the Yankees, 3-0, in Tuesday night's American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser at Yankee Stadium.

The Astros advance to the best-of-five AL Division Series to face the Royals, beginning Thursday in Kansas City at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1.

:: AL Wild Card Game: Astros vs. Yankees -- Result::

"There's no question I was really sore the last couple of weeks, but I tried to do my best and just come here to New York to play," said Gomez, who homered in the 2011 NLDS for the Brewers against the D-backs.

Even though Gomez wasn't at 100 percent, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to push the issue because of the impact he could have on the field, on the bases and at the plate. Simply put, he wanted him to play on this stage. That's why they traded for him.

"I don't think anyone would have predicted a home run," Hinch said. "I knew he would run down some balls. He was going to make a throw or two. But for him, he gave us everything he had. He's not 100 percent. But he came up in the biggest moments."

Video: AL WC: Gomez runs over 67 feet to make the play

Gomez grimaced in his next at-bat after the home run, and Hinch told him he was taking him out of the game. Jed Lowrie pinch-hit for Gomez in the ninth and flied out.

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"He doesn't want to come out," Hinch said. "He just needed to catch his breath, but I wasn't going to let him hit again. I think we're playing a very delicate game here with him and his health. He had given us all he could up to that point. I wasn't going to put him in harm's way again."

Video: AL WC: Gomez appears in discomfort, remains the game

Gomez said every time he swung and missed he was in pain.

"But when you step on the field, you've got all the adrenaline and you hear those fans, a lot of things come through your body and push you in a situation like that," he said. "It's not time to be a hero, because I understand my body. I know my body really good. And I say, 'Let me stay in. Let me stay. I can handle this.'"

Video: AL WC: Gomez discusses his homer, Wild Card Game win

However, Gomez said he didn't want to go home with his "chest broke."

"I'm excited and put my team in a situation to go long distance and play baseball," he said.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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