I don’t think anyone will truly be able to express the elation + stomach-turning cocktail of feelings that come with postseason play. Language just isn’t that precise enough, nor is it truly that descriptive. But in the end, it’s something of a satisfying feeling. Especially when you win it all. Y’know what, the Red Sox just did that, I hear. That’s really great. And they certainly couldn’t have won it all without heroics from one mister Jonny Gomes.
Gomes had his fair share of game-breaking plays over the year, the walk-off bombs against the Tampa Bay Rays & San Diego Padres being the two brightest gems in Jonny’s crown. But I’m here to give you some in-depth #analysis on what went down during his Game 4 blast in St. Louis. There’s some hidden things in there. From John Lackey making a fantastic cameo to Mike Napoli murdering Gomes’ face, I’ve got it all right here. (It’s a shame Gomes shaved, because you probably could’ve found a betting line on when Napoli would rip his beard out.)
The situation was tense – by tense, I mean half my fingernails were gone. Like involuntary-leg-quaking tense. Boston was tied 1-1 going into the sixth inning, but the Red Sox had managed to wear down Lance Lynn despite not doing very much damage. Dustin Pedroia and future Series MVP David Ortiz finally get on base, then Cardinals manager Mike Matheny steps in and calls for Seth Maness out of the pen. The following is an interactive tale of the events that surround that fateful 2-2 pitch to Gomes.
(Hover over the pictures and you’ll see the magic happen)
You see Gomes here doing his normal pre-pitch thing: getting into the batter’s box, checking his gloves, shaking helmet enough times to make it vibrate until the end of time, the whole nine yards. On the other hand, Maness is on the mound, probably half focused and half scared out of his mind with this being the first World Series of his career. His thoughts may or may not have been all over the place. But behold my intuitive powers of past thought reading! (Hindsight sucks, for what it’s worth)
Yadier Molina calls for a fastball outside. It’s nothing special, just a 90 mph heater, but whoops, it’s not going outside. Not even close. Maness is terrified. Molina is terrified. Millions of Cardinals fans are terrified. Gomes is about to be a hero. Does he know it yet? Probably not. But he knows he’s about to hit the crap out of that unimpressive fastball. It’ll go roughly 390 feet to left. Platoon splits be damned.
Gomes swings. And a lightning bolt flies off his bat. No one’s sure where this thing is gonna land. Heck, even Joe Buck didn’t know, and he’s been to quite a few ballparks. All that the three involved in that pitch know – Maness, Gomes & Molina – is that this thing is smoked to left. And with the 10 second delay, I’m wondering what John Farrell meant by Gomes’ “intangibles”. Then, once that delay passes, I don’t care one bit.
That’s no Big Mac Land, but it’ll do, Gomes, it’ll do. And there’s John Lackey, in a rare World Series moment when he’s not hurling 6 strong innings of my-boot-your-butt, run-denying baseball. I didn’t capture this, but Jonny Gomes rounds first and goes Super Saiyan. Energy explosion and all. Which is actually quite apt, as he just blasted a Kamehameha Wave over the left field fence and into our hearts.
Gomes literally roars – ROARS – into home, touches the plate, and heads back to the dugout, where all manner of men and beards await. It’s a mood whiplash of a sight, as distraught Cardinals fans line the background while the Red Sox are about to explode out of the dugout and break FOX’s camera & cameraman in celebration. For the Boston fans, word has it that Western Europe could hear all of New England yelling in delight.
And that’s arguably the turning point of the entire World Series. Jonny Gomes changed the whole thing with that one swing. As we’ve seen, Gomes has a penchant for breaking a game open or ending it all at once. Just ask Joel Peralta & Luke Gregerson, the two guys who gave up his walk-off shots in 2013. Between you and me, if I had to bet on who’d smack the next walk-off hit, I’d pick Gomes. This doesn’t exactly break sabermetrics, but Gomes has done some pretty amazing stuff against right-handers despite being generally bad against them.
Chalk it up to intangibles. I’m fine with that for now. Just realize that Jonny Gomes was a fulcrum for quite a few of the amazing wins the Red Sox pulled off in 2013.