It’s beginning to get to that point now where you have to start to believe that the Red Sox are for real.
There’s a some special stuff going on. Jonny Gomes’s pinch-hit homer, the eighth walk-off win for the Red Sox this season, is certainly proof of that. Jon Lester has straightened himself out once again, too. While we all need to see whether Clay Buchholz can continue his 9-0, 1.71 ERA season when he returns from a neck injury, that will then be the telltale sign that this team is ready for postseason play in October.
Gomes got off to a slow start, but he’s finally providing the righthanded pop this team needs to balance the lineup. It was good, sound managing by John Farrell to bring Gomes up to pinch-hit for Brandon Snyder for two reasons: Gomes’s flair for the dramatic and his experience with Luke Gregerson against whom he had hit a walk-off homer while he played in the National League.
“When we get into these National League teams we have a limited history against their bullpens,” Farrell said. “In this case Gomes had faced Gregerson twice and had hit a walk-off against him previously. Snyder is clearly better against lefthanded pitching. I thought this was a case of picking a spot to use Gomes and a flair for the dramatic, call it what you want. He got a slider over the plate and walked it off.
“I think his [Gomes’s] career shows that midseason on is when things start to click for him. When we went our interleague trip to Philly we saw better swings from him. He’s got a lot of experience in his role and flair for the dramatic.
Gomes said of his success against Gregerson: “I wouldn’t call it too much success, just two at-bats. But that guy throws some good sliders like he did the inning before and he did to me. The first three pitches, no one’s going to hit it. So all I do is get one of those sliders up, the count was 1-2 and I let the slider go by, kind of set my sights to getting one up, and then got some good wood on the last one.”
Asked if he liked those situations, Gomes said, “You definitely got to be ready but you don’t really want to be tied in the ninth, if you will. With that being said, we just needed one run in the ninth. That says a lot about our pitching staff. Jon Lester, an amazing job tonight. Taz coming in, clean inning. So I just had three swings tonight, those guys did a lot of work.”
On late game heroics: “Whether it’s me or someone else, I’ll tell you what, winning’s fun and stuff like that is contagious. It seems like it’s someone new nightly. Granted Jon and Taz didn’t bat tonight, but they did a heck of a job just giving us the opportunity.”
Did he know it was gone: “I did. I knew I hit it far enough but that green wall can be tricky sometimes. So I just hoped I had enough air under it to get out. You might be able to argue I always go for the fences, me just swinging hard a lot. But with the guys coming up behind me, if we can just get the lead-off guy on, drawing a walk right there is just as successful with these guys coming up behind me.”
On his fake punt of his helmet as he approached home: “The fake punt, yeah, you got to keep everyone on their toes, right? I think I’m all out of tricks now to tell you the truth.”
Lester had an excellent changeup Wednesday night. He went seven innings and allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts but didn’t get the win. Junichi Tazawa came on to strike out the side in the eighth and Koji Uehara pitched a strong ninth to gain the win. He’s now 2-0.
Mike Carp had two hits to raise his average to .316.
“In his second at-bat, he got the base hit between the 3-4 hole and made an excellent read to score from first on the ball hit off the wall. Much like we talked about Gomes’s preparation, Carp is much in the same sentence. They stay ready, they know what to do when called upon. In a spot start he’s given us a great contribution,” Farrell said.
Dustin Pedroia also had two hits and stole his 13th base and is now hitting .323.