Role model: Gomes delivers go-ahead RBI single
Part-time outfielder comes off bench to snap seventh-inning tie
BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes hadn't stepped to the plate in five days, but manager John Farrell asked him to come through in a big spot on Friday night at Fenway Park.
In a pinch-hitting role, Gomes did not disappoint, raking an RBI single to left with one out in the seventh that snapped a tie and helped fuel the Red Sox to a 7-5 victory over the Blue Jays.
With lefty Brett Cecil pitching for Toronto, Farrell called on Gomes to bat for switch-hitter Daniel Nava in a bases-loaded situation.
Though Gomes's overall numbers (.217 average, five homers, .371 slugging percentage) are nothing to write home about, he has had a knack for coming through in big situations in his first season in Boston.
Consider that as a pinch-hitter, Gomes is 4-for-12 with a double, two homers and three RBIs. And with runners in scoring position, the veteran is hitting .321, more than 100 points higher than his overall average.
"It's clearly a mindset," said Farrell. "Pitchers are going to be careful to him and he doesn't chase. Seemingly he gets himself in a good hitter's count. He's a smart baseball player all the way around. He's keen in that time when he's in the batter's box."
Gomes is the classic example of the role player who comes to the park every day envisioning how he might help the team in that particularly game.
"I was thinking that about 2 o'clock in the afternoon when I got here," said Gomes. "A day like today is definitely a team victory. We've had plenty of success with guys coming off the bench. We've got a deep team, deep bench and we're all ready."
Players who can thrive in a part-time role are hard to find, which is why the Red Sox deemed Gomes as someone worthy of a two-year, $10 million contract.
What sets Gomes apart from other players who can't thrive in that type of role?
"The extra early work that he does, the extra early BP he takes," said Farrell. "He's a veteran who has been in this role for a number of years. Physically and mentally he prepares himself to execute, and he did."
After Gomes put the Red Sox in front, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a bases-loaded walk against Darren Oliver to make it a two-run game.
The win was another example of Boston bouncing back quickly from adversity.
In the top of the seventh, the slumping Andrew Bailey served up a game-tying homer to Edwin Encarnacion, completing Toronto's comeback from a 5-0 deficit.
"I felt great tonight and threw some quality pitches and got the first two guys," Bailey said. "You have to learn from your mistakes. If you dwell on them, you'll take them into your next outing. I'll be ready to go tomorrow and just remember the first two hitters. It's one of those things where you have to learn from your mistakes, but also remember about the good ones."
After the Red Sox regained the lead, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara finished off the Jays.
For Uehara, who was promoted to the closer's role a week ago, it was his third save in the last three days.
"Man, he's awesome," Bailey said. "He's fun to watch. It's unbelievable. He's definitely been our guy down there all year that has been that rock that you can call on any time and he's ready to go. What he's done the last three nights is fantastic. It's definitely fun to watch. It's like a video game to him."
Allen Webster's fourth Major League start was a mixed bag. Over six innings, he scattered six hits and four runs while walking two and striking out three. Webster left with a 5-4 lead.
"It felt really good the first four innings. I was locating my fastball, being able to get quick outs and stay in there," said Webster, who was filling in for the injured Clay Buchholz.
At first, Bailey looked primed for a bounce-back outing, striking out Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista.
However, up stepped the dangerous Encarnacion, and he walloped a 1-0 fastball over the wall in center for home run No. 23.
"We saw the swing and miss on the fastball up that's somewhat been his trademark, so there's better life up through the zone," said Farrell. "The 1-0 fastball to Encarnacion, against a good fastball hitter, I'm sure if he re-thought it, he might have done it a little bit differently, knowing we had Andrew Miller ready to go for the lefties behind him.
"That might be a different mindset for the role he's in right now. For a closer, it's always on the attack mode, rather than managing the lineup. But the first two hitters he faced, very encouraging."
Unlike in his previous two starts, Webster made it through the first inning without giving up a crooked number. In fact, Boston's No. 4 prospect opened with a 1-2-3 frame and took a shutout into the fifth.
"I thought [Webster] showed a lot of poise tonight," said Farrell. "In the fifth inning, where he's got an 0-2 count to Encarnacion for the base hit, that kind of gets their rally going. Bautista [got the hit] against the shift. They bunched some hits. I thought overall he showed very good stuff. He pitched against a very good fastball hitting team. Again, I think the most encouraging thing was the number of ground balls he was able to induce."
The Blue Jays had won 11 out of 13 before losing the first two of this four-game series at Fenway. Meanwhile, the Sox have won four in a row and are 49-33 on the season.
"Well, you know, we played so good for so long," said Jays manager John Gibbons. "That's the way the game works sometimes. You're bound to cool off a little bit. But I mean we're in that thing. We came back and tied it with a chance to win it. It just didn't happen."
Gomes didn't let it.
"I'm a grinder," said Gomes. "I'm willing to take one off the neck for the team. You definitely have to be confident. I'm sure he was confident, too. I don't think I was more confident than him that at-bat. I just did what I could to make sure our guy touched the dish."