Gomes knows Boston can wipe the slate clean
Left fielder says Red Sox, who faced adversity through '13, have winning makeup
BOSTON -- Now that the Red Sox have hit the first bump in their postseason road, how will they react? Teams sometimes reveal more about themselves when they're dealing with adversity than when they're rolling merrily along.
No reporters were allowed inside the clubhouse Sunday afternoon, but the Red Sox had the country music cranked up as they prepared for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
However, there was definitely some yelling. Was it frustration after Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Tigers? No, some guys were having a bad day with their fantasy football teams. So, onward.
"Yeah, obviously a lot of veterans in here know what's on the line," Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said. "Know what our goal is. And we need to get some wins, to get some runs to accomplish that goal. I think this team has done a great job of cleaning the slate, if you will, after a loss, after any loss.
"So you talk about a team that hasn't lost four straight all year. I think that says a lot about the culture, a lot about the character of the guys in here, not that everyone is in here like New Year's Eve right now, but at the same time, you've got to clean the slate. And we've done a great job of that all year. It's not something new that we're facing. We've just got to continue to do what we've done all year."
That said, the postseason is different. The Red Sox trail the best-of-seven ALCS, 1-0. After climbing atop the AL East for good on Aug. 25 and winning three of four against the Rays in the AL Division Series, the Red Sox haven't been pressed in a while.
"Yeah, you could put a sense of urgency on it, if you will," Gomes said, "but that doesn't change the way we will play. We're not going to have a meeting today to change how we pitch Detroit. We're not going to have a meeting today about how we face their starting pitching. That's what you have to do, whether you win or whether you lose. You've got to look in the mirror, and we turned over every leaf and tried everything we had. And I think this team is going to do that a hundred percent."
Red Sox manager John Farrell said he heard enough from his clubhouse to know things were fine.
"Just listen," he said. "The conversation, the type of conversation, the interactions, what they're talking about. that's pretty consistent."
What were they talking about?
"A lot of the same trash [talk]."
Gomes was part of general manager Ben Cherington's reshaping of the Red Sox last offseason. Having played for postseason teams in Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Oakland, he has a reputation as a terrific clubhouse presence and someone who contributes to winning beyond his numbers.
He said that while names and faces change from team to team, winning seasons have a bunch of similarities.
"I've talked about that, to where if you break down championship-caliber teams in Major League Baseball all the way back, they're all very similar," he said. "You talk about a couple Cinderella stories that kind of get late into the postseason; when we talk about a champion, they're all very similar. They pitch. They play defense. Team chemistry. Situational hits.
"This is my fourth division title and my fourth team. They're all very similar. We pitch. We play defense. We play together. We situational hit. We create an identity and win and lose with that identity. So they are truly similar with the Rays, Reds, A's, now here.
"The losing teams are very similar, too. You've got to have some guys on your team that will be able to nip in the bud in April, in June, in July, when things roll, stop it now. You've got to get out of the valley, get back up, versus letting it play, riding it out. Very similar.
"Obviously different over here with so many veterans and so many decorated guys, with MVP's and World Series rings and veterans and all that stuff. In between the lines, it's pretty similar."
Besides, he said the Red Sox had their makeup tested all season long. Clay Buchholz was lost for three months. David Ortiz began the season on the disabled list. Others missed time as well. But the Red Sox were never more than a game out of first place after June 1.
"I think it says a lot about how this team was built in the offseason, how deep it was built, how deep this organization is," Gomes said. "And the will inside this clubhouse to pick each other up, to hide injuries, to hide slumps. And if you do break down the injuries, some of the struggles that we've had this year, and then put the equal sign and put 97 wins next to it, I think it would surprise a lot of people. I think we've done a great, great job of dealing with adversity and hiding injuries."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.