So far this season, Jonny Gomes has all of 35 hits. But it feels like about 20 of those have been big. Wednesday night he added to that tally, clubbing a pinch-hit walkoff homer against the San Diego Padres.
To get to the ninth inning with the game still in reach, however, the Red Sox needed Jon Lester to keep the Padres quiet. Not the tallest task in the world, admittedly, but with the way Jon Lester has been pitching, also not a guarantee. And after the first inning, it seemed more like an impossibility. While a loud fly out to deep center field was a slightly unsettling way to start the frame, but it was an infield single which kept it going, allowing the Padres to strike the first blow with a hit off the wall and a line drive that made it 1-0, Padres.
The bottom of the first actually provided some promise that the Red Sox would respond loudly, perhaps kicking off a shootout. Bad luck ended that chance, however, as Logan Forsythe snagged a rocket off the bat of David Ortiz with runners on second and third, stepping on second to complete an inning-ended double play.
And from there...the surprise pitchers' duel settled in. The Padres worked around three leadoff baserunners between the second and third innings, and while Jarrod Saltalamacchia managed to double home Mike Carp in the fourth, that one run was shockingly little production against a struggling Edinson Volquez.
The good news, however, was that the Red Sox were finally getting a performance from Jon Lester, who suddenly remembered how to throw strikes. While Lester wasn't perfect, he was certainly stingy. With his control making a rare appearance, Lester lived in the strike zone and ahead in the count. What baserunners he did surrender after the first were scattered, leaving the Padres unable to regain their lead.
With both offenses going in the tank, Nick Vincent and Luke Gregerson got the Padres through the seventh and eighth, while Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara got the Red Sox into the bottom of the ninth. From there...the end was quick indeed. Despite the Padres having a right-handed pitcher in Gregerson on the mound, John Farrell called on Jonny Goms. And it proved very much the right move. With a 2-2 count after four pitches, Gregerson delivered a slider that stayed over the outside half of the plate, and Gomes didn't miss his opportunity. Hooking the offering, even given its placement, Gomes put it on a perfect arc to clear the Monster with ease, finally pushing across the third and final run of the game.
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