Boston Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes (right) is welcomed back to the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning during game four of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium Sunday night. (H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports)
Dave D'Onofrio's Sox Beat: Boston comes up big when things are looking bleak
They finished with 178, which ranked fifth in the American League, but that was buoyed by the 39 they hit in September and the eight they hit on a single night against Detroit. But through 140 games they'd gone deep 140 times, and no Boston team has slugged as few as a homer per game since Butch Hobson's underwhelming bunch in 1993.
When the Cardinals pitched around David Ortiz in the sixth inning of a tie game Sunday night — despite the fact that Dustin Pedroia already occupied first base — and Jonny Gomes sent a 387-foot blast to the visitors' bullpen, the emergency left fielder not only gave Boston a 4-1 lead but also presented the latest example of the decisive weapon the long ball has been for the Sox during this postseason.
And looking at those blasts a little bit more closely, Baseball Reference's win expectancy calculations show that Boston's home runs haven't merely been part of those victories; they've been among the primary reasons why the club is just one triumph away from celebrating a World Series championship.
And that's been the way these Sox have been getting it done of late. Through Game 4 of the World Series, the Sox hadnotched six hits that improved their win expectancy by at least 20 percent — and five of those hits were homers. Meanwhile, four hits had improved their likelihood by at least 33 percent.
A neat sidelight to Gomes' memorable shot on Sunday night was that it came in a half-inning that began with baseball pausing the game to "stand up to cancer," an effort that included the players joining with people throughout the stadium in holding placards that featured the names of people who are fighting (or have fought) cancer.
"About 4½ years old, and talk about battle tested," Gomes said. "This little kid, he comes out to the ballpark every once in a while, and it was pretty special to be able to do that top of the sixth. It really adds to the fairy tale that it was for me today."
With Ortiz hitting .727 in the series, and the Cardinals demonstrating a willingness to pitch around him in Game 4, John Farrell took the opportunity created when Shane Victorino missed a second straight start with an ailing back and shuffled his lineup a little in an effort to provide Ortiz more protection.Dustin Pedroia moved up to the No. 2 spot in the order, with Ortiz third and followed by Gomes and Daniel Nava, each of whom had been productive while the series was in St. Louis.