After Jake Peavy allowed a leadoff single to Arizona’s Wil Nieves in the top of the eighth inning, Red Sox manager John Farrell made a pitching change with Boston leading, 3-1. Farrell summoned Craig Breslow from the bullpen and the left-hander hit a batter and allowed a single to load the bases. He was given the hook and replaced by right-hander Junichi Tazawa. His first offering resulted in a RBI-single by the Diamondbacks’ Aaron Hill, but Gomes quickly retrieved the ball and made a perfect throw to the plate ahead of the would-be game-tying run. Cliff Pennington was called out at home for the first out of the inning.
Still, Arizona had runners on first and second. Tazawa got out of the jam, retiring the next two batters to secure the Sox’s 3-2 lead.
“Jonny Gomes might be my favorite player in the big leagues in this short time,” Peavy said after Boston’s 5-2 win. “When he showed up, me and my dad and my little boys were outside, he almost ran over us. He had the pedal to the metal running about 50 up in the parking lot. He’s so excited to get to the ballpark.”
Peavy’s first experience as the newest member of the Red Sox came Thursday night, when the team scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for an 8-7 walk-off win over the Seattle Mariners.
Gomes entered that game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and took over in left field in the ninth. He made two huge defensively plays, without which the Sox’s epic comeback might not have been possible.
“I don’t know much media play it got the other night, but him running into that wall making that play when we were down six,” Peavy said. “Coming in, top of the ninth, I truly think that was the spark that started it and making sure we’re playing to the last out.
“Tonight was no different with him. You see him coming up again with a huge play, keeping that game on our side there. Huge play.”
Farrell agreed that Gomes helped ensure Saturday’s victory for the Red Sox.
“Koji [Uehara] gets credited for the save but the throw from left field might have been the save,” Farrell said. “He cuts down the runner and Taz gets a big strikeout after that and a fly ball to end it. Typical with a left fielder moving side-to-side, base runners are going to challenge that and he was able to redirect himself, make a strong throw and throw a strike. And in that moment, pivotal play in the game.”