Never before told: Jonny Gomes, inserted into lineup after players protested, hit game-winning home run for Red Sox in Game 4 of 2013 Series
AUTHOR JOAN RYAN REVEALS TALE IN NEW BOOK, “INTANGIBLES: UNLOCKING THE SCIENCE AND SOUL OF TEAM CHEMISTRY”
Almost seven years after the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals, author Joan Ryan has revealed in a never-before-told story how a group of Red Sox players persuaded manager John Farrell to change his announced starting lineup for Game 4 in order to include Jonny Gomes, who hit a decisive three-run home run to lift the Red Sox to a 4–2 victory.
Gomes was not in the starting lineup that Farrell posted and had been made available to media outlets to distribute publicly. That was well known. But prior to the game, it was announced that outfielder Shane Victorino had been scratched with lower back tightness. Gomes was inserted in the lineup in left field, with Daniel Nava, who had been listed to start in left, was moved over to take Victorino’s place in right.
But according to veteran award-winning journalist Ryan in the her new book, “Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry,” Farrell made the change after a group of Sox veterans that included David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester came to his office and insisted that Gomes be in the lineup.
“Jonny Gomes is playing,” Ryan quotes Ortiz as telling Farrell.
At that point in the Series, Gomes was hitless in eight at-bats, which included seven at-bats as a starter in the first two games, and going out as a pinch-hitter in Game 3. Overall in the postseason, Gomes was batting 5 for 33 (.152) and Farrell, as he had done in Game 3, had opted to start the left-handed hitting Nava against right-hander Lance Lynn in Game 4 instead of the right-handed hitting Gomes.
But to the players who had met among themselves before converging on Farrell, the numbers didn’t matter.
“Gomes became such a huge part of what made us go that it didn’t matter if (Lynn) was a right-handed starter,” one Sox player, asking for anonymity, told Ryan. “Having Gomes on the field, the way everybody on that team felt about him — he pulled such a weight that was unexplainable.”
The Sox came into Game 4 trailing in the Series, 2 games to 1. They were tied at 1 in the sixth inning when Gomes launched a three-run home run against right-handed rookie reliever Seth Maness. The Sox won the game, then won the next two games to close out the Cardinals.
Gomes would wind up batting .143 (7 for 42) in the postseason. His teammates preferred another stat: They were 10–1 in games in which Gomes started.
“Everybody on that team believed when you get to that point in the season, matchups don’t matter,’’ Pedroia told Ryan. “You win with the people. You win with your guys. It’s like anything. If you’re going to lose at something, you want to lose your way. That’s how we all felt. If that team would have lost that year in the World Series, and we had run our guys out there, there’s not one gy who would have said, ‘We should have done something different.’ We wanted to make sure we left it all out there, and we had our guys in. We just felt: We need him in there. That was it. We’ve all sacrificed so much to get to this point. Let’s do it our way.’’
The numbers were irrelevant, Pedroia told Ryan.
“That’s always been my mindset,’’ he said. “Do I want Jonny Gomes up with the game on the line? Every time. I don’t care if he doesn’t have a (good) batting average. You know you’re going to get a good at-bat every time. He gives us a chance. You know he’s never going to lack confidence, and he’s never going to quit. I’ll take my chances every time.’’
Ryan, the author of five books, including the best-selling “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes” will be the featured speaker of the Great Fenway Park Writers Series, a free Zoom session at 7 p.m. You may register here: https://redsox.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ifwHel84SA-xpfwbWQV2Ag.