Red Sox make their hits count in win
BOSTON -- The Red Sox had just six hits in their 6-3 win over the A's on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. But they made almost all of them count, none more so than Jonny Gomes' first-inning grand slam.
With one out and the bases loaded, Gomes wasted no time jumping on Tommy Milone's first pitch, a curveball. He drove it into the Monster seats in left field to give Boston an early 4-0 lead.
From Gomes' experience with the A's in 2012, he knew what kind of an approach their pitchers have.
"Those guys are strike-throwers," Gomes said. "It kind of comes with the motto of pitching in their ballpark. I just wanted to be aggressive early and aggressive throughout the whole game. I swung at every single pitch I saw today, but they were all strikes. I just wanted to be aggressive on strikes early. They came right after me like they do everyone, and it worked out the first at-bat."
It was Gomes' third home run of the season. It was also his fifth career grand slam -- and first since May 8, 2013, against the Twins.
"It was a first-pitch curveball," Gomes said. "Runner on third, less than two outs, I was just looking for something on the bottom half of the ball, something to elevate. Worst-case scenario, sac fly. Best, it goes out."
It went out.
"It's pretty nice," said Gomes. "But I think it's a lot more nice, if you will, to be able to give Jon Lester that four-run lead going into the second. Just get a little bit of pressure off him to where he feels he doesn't have to be perfect. I guess we saw how that worked out with him, he was pretty unbelievable today. With his career and his track record, [it was impressive] to still top some career highs, as well. [Catcher] David Ross [and Lester were] definitely on the same page."
Ross added to the offense with his second home run of the season to lead off the fourth. As a catcher, though, he's looking out for his pitcher -- and Lester pitched a gem for the Sox.
"It's always nice to pitch with a lead," Ross said. "You can breathe a little easier -- especially when he's pitching like that. It always helps. First month, we were playing a lot of catch-up and put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Jonny gave us some breathing room today. That was nice to be able to pitch and be aggressive with the lead. When you've got a guy like Jon Lester pitching like that, you don't need too many [runs]."
David Ortiz hit a lead-off home run in the third. It was the 379th home run of his career with the Red Sox, tying him with Dwight Evans for fourth place on the Sox' all-time list. It came on an 0-and-2 pitch, just the sixth time in his career he's hit a home run in that count -- and the first since Aug. 25, 2004, at Toronto.
The Sox are now 11-3 when they score first.
"[Gomes] gives us a huge lift in the first on one pitch he saw, [his] first pitch of the day," said manager John Farrell. "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, [as evidenced] by the ninth inning. But I think as the warm weather starts to descend here, guys are feeling a little bit more free and easy at the plate."