World Series: Late replacement Jonny Gomes propels Red Sox to 4-2 win: Griffin
ST. LOUIS-It was only during batting practice that Jonny Gomes heard he was going to be in the Game 4 starting lineup in left field. It was only during the fifth inning that David Ortiz gathered the team around him in the dugout for a heart-to-heart talk. It was during the sixth inning that Gomes launched his emphatic three-run homer into the Red Sox bullpen to give his team the lead.
In the end, the visiting Sox rode all of that impetus, emotion and adrenaline to a 4-2 victory over the Cardinals before a record crowd of 47,469 to even the World Series at two games each. The series is now guaranteed to return to Fenway Park.
If anyone doubted or wants to discuss the value of Ortiz to the Red Sox cause, the total package he brings to the table cannot be overstated. Big Papi is 8-for-11 in the series with four walks. He scored from third on a sacrifice fly to tie this game in the fifth. He walked ahead of the Gomes homer in the sixth, but it may be his town hall meeting in the dugout that his teammates will remember as the series moves forward.
“Anytime this guy opens his mouth, we're locked in,” Gomes said. “Whatever comes out of his mouth is going to be meaningful, priceless and probably something you don't (already) know. That being said he had everybody's attention pretty quick. He gave us a little kick in the butt.”
Gomes was doubly impacted emotionally by the Stand Up for Cancer campaign that took place following the bottom of the fifth, the same break during which Ortiz fired up the troops. The format of the charity event was that everyone in the park, fans, players, umpires and coaches included stood at attention and held up a peronal, handwritten sign with the name of someone they knew that had been affected by cancer. Gomes had two names, his high school baseball coach and a young 4-1/2 year-old boy that he knew from charity work. His home run off reliever Seth Maness came that very next inning.
“As far as the (Ortiz) message, I think we'll keep that in house,” Gomes said. “But I think it just sums up the type of guy he is, the superstar he is, the teammate he is, the passion he has for the game and obviously the passion he has for the 24 guys he shares the dugout with.
“Anytime this guy steps in the box there's a presence. Anytime this guy puts on a uniform there's a presence. It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone's attention and we looked him right in the eyes. That message was pretty powerful.”
Gomes was playing only because of Shane Victorino's lower back tightness. The managerial serendipity of John Farrell after he had already tabbed Daniel Nava to replace Gomes in left field the first two games in the more spacious outfield provided a much needed series turnaround after the debacle of the Game 3 walkoff obstruction the night before. These Red Sox are resilient.
“You don't have much room to give a game (away) and just kind of say, OK, that wasn't a good game,” Gomes said. “It's a heavyweight fight. You have to win as many rounds as you can. This team has built a character and an identity to be able to clean the slate with a win or a loss. The guys inside the clubhouse are professionals. The guys inside the clubhouse are able to clean the slate from a tough loss. These guys are true pros on the field and mentally.”
Once again the two bullpens were key, with the Sox emerging on the plus side in this one. After Cards starter Lance Lynn had retired the first two batters in the sixth, he allowed a single and a walk before the decisive blast by Gomes. After the walk to Ortiz, manager Mike Matheny went to the bullpen with Maness to face the righthanded hitting slugger. But the question became why Matheny had allowed Lynn to face Big Papi in the first place with lefthander Randy Choate ready in the pen for such a moment.
Meanwhile manager John Farrell, for the second night in a row, went to his lefthander Felix Doubront in relief of Clay Buchholz who went just four innings, with one unearned run. In Game 3 Doubront had pitched two innings. On Sunday he went 2.2 innings for the win.
“I prepared myself to go more than two innings at least, knowing that I threw two innings yesterday and today was a different day,” Doubront said. “All the excitement and adrenaline that I want to pitch and I want to be in the game. I want to be a part of the team and to win the game.”
Somewhat of a surprise, but part of Farrell's all-hands-on-deck philosophy was the appearance of Game 2 starter John Lackey in relief to pitch the eighth inning. He is slated to start Game 6 in three days when the series heads to Boston. Lackey pitched a shutout frame and handed the lead to the closer Koji Uehara. Lackey had two post-season relief appearances in '02 with the Angels, as a rookie.
There has been speculation ever since the World Series started that there was something physically not right with Buchholz. First was that he was taken out of the No. 2 starter role that he occupied in the ALCS. Then was the news from the manager that he would be throwing one of the two games in the weekend in St. Louis, not specifying which one, while at the same time Doubront was throwing a simulated game at Fenway, back on the workout day before Game 1. He gutted through four innings on Sunday, never touching 90 with his fastballm but allowing just one unearned run.
“So much attention has been brought to, 'Can he make it? What's he going to give you?'” Farrell said. “A lot of scrutiny around his situation. But, given if he did not have his mid-season stuff, if the ball doesn't bounce off a clump of grass, in the outfield, he may not have given up a run.”
The Cards opened the scoring in the third inning with an unearned run. Matt Carpenter slashed a single to centre field that took a bad bounce as it got close to Jacoby Ellsbury and squirted past him for an error. Carlos Beltran grounded a single into centre field to open the scoring. With that RBI, Beltran moved into sole possession of sixth place among active major-leaguers in the post-season with 39, trailing Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Alex Rodriguez.
Lynn, the fourth starter for the Cards, was dominant early, just as Joe Kelly had been the night before. Lynn had faced just 12 Red Sox hitters through four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth.
Thanks to an Ortiz double and walks to Gomes and Xander Bogaerts, Lynn loaded the bases with nobody out. The light-hitting Stephen Drew launched a medium depth flyball to left and Ortiz slid in to beat the throw, tying the game 1-1. After a grinding at-bat by David Ross that ended in a strikeout, Lynn espcaped with a groundball. He was not able to escape the sixth.
The embarrassing shoe was on the other foot this night. In the ninth, the Cards main man, Beltran stepped to the plate as the tying run with two outs vs. Uehara but never had a chance to swing the bat. Kolten Wong was picked off by Uehara to end it.