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BOSTON (CBS) — Clay Buchholz could not make it through more than four innings, leaving the Red Sox with a 1-0 deficit in Game 4 and the prospect of a 3-1 series deficit staring them in the face.
But the Red Sox, as has been their M.O. all year, continued to fight and refused to quit. And thanks to a three-run home run by Jonny Gomes and nearly three innings of brilliant relief work by Felix Doubront, the Red Sox were able to change the game and the series.
After David Ortiz hustled home to score on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly in the fifth inning to tie the game, Gomes stepped to the plate in the sixth. The Cardinals had just put Ortiz on first base with the unintentional intentional walk. Seth Maness came in to relieve starter Lance Lynn. Gomes didn’t have a World Series hit yet, but he picked a swell time to deliver his first.
Gomes sent a 2-2 offering high and deep to left field, sending Matt Holliday back to the track and then the wall. But the left fielder had no play on the ball, as it came down in the Boston bullpen to give Boston a 4-1 lead. That would be all the runs they’d need for a 4-2 victory, and the series is now tied 2-2.
Doubront was the first man out of the pen for Boston, and he picked up Buchholz in a big way. He was charged with a run, which Craig Breslow allowed to score, but he was nearly flawless in his 2 2/3 innings of work.
The Key Moment
Sure, the guys on the field had to come through, but let’s give some credit to something that happened in the dugout.
With the game tied 1-1 before the top of the sixth inning, David Ortiz gathered his teammates and delivered an impassioned speech. While a pep talk has never hit a home run before, there’s no denying the effect that Ortiz has on his teammates.
“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 this game, and obviously the passion he has for the 24 guys he’s sharing a dugout with right there,” Gomes said of the meeting. “Any time this guy steps in the box, there’s a presence. Any time this guy puts a uniform on, there’s a presence. And if this guy wants to rally us together for a pep talk, it was like 24 kindergarteners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone’s attention, and we looked him right in the eyes, and that message was pretty powerful.”
It was a smart move, too. At that point, Ortiz probably realized the chances of him seeing a pitch that could be driven were pretty low, considering he was already 2-for-2. He doubled in the fifth and chugged home on a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and now it was his teammates’ turn.
Sure enough, Dustin Pedroia kicked off a two-out rally with a first-pitch single over shortstop. Ortiz then walked on four pitches, setting the stage for Gomes.
With Seth Maness on the mound, Gomes crushed a 2-2 pitch over the left-field fence, opening up a 4-1 Red Sox lead and providing hope and confidence to a team that may have been starting to let some doubt creep in.
This Red Sox team has rallied together and battled back from holes all year long, but that brief dugout meeting helped unite their focus in the toughest spot of the season.
As great as Ortiz was in this game (3-for-3, a walk and a run scored), and as much as he was “The Man,” that honor is reserved for Jonny Gomes, the man who delivered yet another memorable home run.
He only hit 13 this season, but he made them count. He had been 0-for-1 on the night, grounding into a double play in the second inning. The past didn’t seem to matter, though, when he delivered that three-run homer, and the outfielder who was only playing in this game due to Shane Victorino suffering back pain instantly became “The Man.”
And now, the Red Sox have a series.
While Gomes deserves all the credit in the world for delivering that three-run home run, the fact remains that the pitch from Seth Maness was bad.
The 90 mph pitch stayed up and split the plate, essentially sitting on a tee for Gomes. With a 2-2 count, Maness had some room for error, thereby making the miss even tougher for St. Louis to swallow.
Maness now has blown two leads in as many nights, which is not a fun way to spend the World Series.
Kolten Wong gets a special mention for entering the game as a pinch runner in the ninth inning. With one of the most dangerous postseason hitters of all time at the plate in Carlos Beltran, Wong inexplicably got picked off by Koji Uehara for the final out.
It’s a three-game series now. Forget all the errors, the obstructions and the homers — the winner of Monday night’s Game 5 will head to Boston with a chance to win the whole thing on Wednesday.
Jon Lester. Adam Wainwright. Game 5.