Sounds easy, but to be able to throw a pitch for a strike and a ball, which he can do very well, 20 game winner, not too many of those in the recent eras. Bulldog mentality, you saw him come out of the bullpen and slam the door in Detroit.
Got our work cut out for us. At the same time 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.
Q. I know you weren't involved last night, but whether it's a postseason or regular season series when a bunch of guys at one lineup feel they're not getting calls from an umpire, how important is it for them not to let that become an issue that affects the rest of the series?
JONNY GOMES: Yeah, like I said, I mean, you know, the view from the TV is obviously a lot different than the batter's box, the umpire's standpoint. But it is what it is. There's a human element to this game, umpiring, pitching, baseball fielding, everything.
This game is coming at you fast these days. Guys are running it up there 95, 96, sliders, any pitch at any count. It's tough, though. I don't think by any means the umpires lost the game for us. I think we did. We'll be all right.
Q. Some of the Red Sox players were a little critical of Rodriguez being allowed to play while he was suspended. I'm wondering what you thought of Peralta being allowed to play?
JONNY GOMES: Well, I don't make those rules. With that being said, I'm not going to go head up with Major League Baseball and the union and the rules they make. I follow the rules. I'm not trying to rewrite the rule book. It is what it is.
Q. During the season the team had to go through being without Clay Buchholz for a stretch and you had a bunch of different people who took the job of closer over. At any point did things like that, did it ever seem like a crisis that you guys went through?
JONNY GOMES: I think it was definitely on the tip of everyone's tongues. To start the season I think the article was written that the offense has taken a big hit, that Big Papi is not in the lineup and it never got printed. I think Clay Buchholz going down, starting pitching isn't the same since Clay went down. That article wasn't written. Ellsbury, Victorino, David Ross, a lot. 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.
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.
Q. I think I'm asking a follow up to what he asked, is it just normal in the clubhouse today, it's not normal being in the postseason, but is it just the usual?
JONNY GOMES: Yeah, obviously postseason, a lot of veterans in here, know what's on the line. 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. We all know that 1 0, 10 0, stands for a loss, you know. 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.
Q. Everybody talks about not taking this opportunity for granted once you get to this point, especially you might not get back again. You can have a great team on paper, make all the offseason moves and still be sitting at home. How many things have to go right for a team like yours or the Tigers, to make it this far, is luck part of that?
JONNY GOMES: I think you earn luck. You create luck. Lucky things happen to good people. Lucky things happen to good teams. I don't think there shouldn't be some Fenway wind to blow a ball one way or another. You create your own luck, if you will.
But 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. Once the playoffs start it's no longer the best team. Because everyone is 0 0, everyone is batting zero and everyone's ERA is zero. It comes down to the hottest team and momentum. And the team that can put a hold on momentum.
I think this team did a great job when Tampa came in here. They were like a freight train of momentum going on, they were back against the wall for a week. They were on a roll. They came in here and we put up some runs and won those two real quick. I think this team has that in their bag, too, to be able to put a screech on the other team's momentum.
Q. With you guys winning the Division pretty handily and beating Tampa in four, is this the first time where there is a real sense of urgency that you need to win tonight's game or else?
JONNY GOMES: Yeah, you could put a sense of urgency on it, if you will, 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.
Q. What did you learn about John Lackey as a teammate that you may not have known about him as a competitor?
JONNY GOMES: I tell you, there's quite a few times I got chills in this building. But being a player, knowing what it's like to go through some bumps and grinds and failure.
When he was in the game at the end at home before we closed the season out, and this whole place was chanting "Lackey," I mean, not a lot of people know what it's like just to get buried in the media and get buried in the clubhouse and get buried in the city that you play for like he did. And he bottled all that up and turned it into a positive and nailed it this offseason and nailed it this season on the mound. And that's another reason why this game is so great. When this whole place was chanting "Lackey," that was something special. It was definitely well deserved.
Q. Having been in the Rays' clubhouse as they were coming into their own and playing for Oakland last year, what are some of the similarities and differences between this clubhouse and this team from those very good teams you've played on elsewhere?
JONNY GOMES: I've talked about that to where if you break down championship caliber teams and Major League Baseball, all the way back, they're all very similar. 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 hit.
So with that, I mean, 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 A's no, the Rays, Reds, A's, now here.
And once you get a taste of that, of the winning and of the failing, so 2007 2008 and this team, 2012 13, worst to first. So this is the second time I've done worst to first, too.
So talking about how the winning teams are very similar. 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.
Q. I know you weren't in there last night. You were in some of the longer games in the previous round. How mentally and physically draining is it to play for four and a half hours, four hours, in an intense, tight game?
JONNY GOMES: If you're not mentally exhausted leaving a playoff game, you didn't play, you know? And that's why the playoffs, the atmosphere, the pressure, is exposed that much more to where I mean, the meetings, the reports, the scouting reports are just completely attacking your weakness or the other team's weakness and you have to make that adjustment on the fly.
So like I said, with the like Myers' fly ball, once the postseason starts you'll see something you haven't seen all year with that. And then again what happened to us offensively. You haven't seen that all year. The guy was throwing a no hitter and we got him out of the game. He threw 117 pitches and we were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. It's crazy.
But that's why this game is so awesome and these playoffs are what it's all about.