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Matt Moore adds to the drama of Adrian Gonzalez’ home run guarantee

05.18.12 at 12:19 am ET
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Adrian Gonzalez watches as his third-inning fly ball goes foul against Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – One first-inning pitch certainly amped things up for the Red Sox and Rays Thursday night.

With runners on first and second and one out in the first inning, Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore’s first pitch to Adrian Gonzalez – a 94 mph fastball – found the first baseman’s left hip, loading the bases.

While on most occasions such an event would be chalked up to the inconsistency of a young pitcher, the particulars that led up to the moment allowed for at least somewhat of an opportunity for controversy.

The night before Gonzalez casually said when asked about his home run drought, “I’ll start hitting home runs. I’ll hit a home run tomorrow.”

Then, Thursday morning, Tampa Bay pitcher David Price went to Twitter to re-tweet @zwendkos, who had resurfaced the Gonzalez’ guarantee with the message “Moore should put one right between his numbers.”

And that’s why eyebrows were raised when Moore’s first-pitch fastball found Gonzalez.

“If it was, it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in baseball,” said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine when asked if he thought the hit-by-pitch was intentional. “But it might have been. I doubt it. I doubt it. Might have been. If we have to resort to that kind of stupidity, maybe the game has passed me by.”

The Red Sox would manage to take the lead in the first inning after loading the bases when Cody Ross drew a run-scoring walk.

And it was because of the pressure it put on the Rays out of the gate that Gonzalez didn’t believe the action was intentional.

“I think he’s trying to pitch inside,” the first baseman said. “I don’t think he’d want to load the bases in that situation. If he did, thank you, because we won the game. You never know what could have happened. Like Bobby said, if that was their intent, hey, keep doing it. It didn’t hurt.”

“I’m not sure what Matt was thinking,” said Red Sox outfielder Marlon Byrd. “But it’s one of those things you put in the back of your mind.”

As for Gonzalez’ guarantee, he would fall short from fulfilling the promise, going 0-for-3. But the lefty hitter did offer one breathless moment in the third inning when he blasted a deep fly ball that went just to the right of the right field foul pole.

“I hit the one. I never said it was going to be fair or foul,” joked Gonzalez, who before the game was identifying batting practice as the time he was now guaranteeing homers. (For the record, he hit seven in BP.) “It went over the fence. It was a home run. And we won the game.”

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