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Sunday, October 13, 2013
Gomes: Playoffs mentally exhausting

By Kyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- If you’re of the belief the Red Sox should be given some slack Sunday night one day after being yanked around by five Detroit Tigers pitchers to the tune of 17 strikeouts in just under four hours, you’re wrong, according to outfielder Jonny Gomes. Those types of games are what the postseason is all about.

“If you’re not mentally exhausted leaving a playoff game, you didn’t play,” Gomes said. “And that’s why the playoffs, the atmosphere, the pressure, is exposed that much more.”

Indeed, Gomes didn’t play in Saturday night’s Game 1 loss to Detroit. However, Gomes is in the lineup for Sunday’s game, batting sixth and playing left, as Boston tries to avoid falling behind 2-0 in the ALCS.

The situation may not be optimal as Tigers hurler Max Scherzer was among the most dominant starters against right-handers -- or any-handers for that matter -- during the regular season.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said. “At the same time, [Game 2 starter Clay Buchholz] isn’t any slouch either. Runs are going to be tough to come by, like they were last night. We’ve got to take advantage of some opportunities.”

Despite the Red Sox leading the league in runs scored by a wide margin during the regular season and defeating Scherzer in a Sept. 3 start, Gomes has put all of that behind him. October is a new slate for the eight teams that make it to division play, one where success is determined by an immeasurable factor.

“At the end of Game 162 there’s a big eraser and all your stats, everything you know that has a number on it, goes down to zero,” Gomes said. “Once the playoffs start, it’s no longer the best team. ... It comes down to the hottest team and momentum.”

So far Detroit has the momentum, winners of three consecutive games, including a pivotal Game 5 against the Oakland Athletics to get them to the ALCS. However, as Gomes has maintained throughout the start of the postseason, anything can happen on any given night to quickly swing things around in the other direction.

“Once the postseason starts you’ll see something you haven’t seen all year,” he said. “But that’s why this game is so awesome and these playoffs are what it’s all about.”