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Jonny Gomes continues strong run against Andy Pettitte, keys Sox win

07.20.13 at 12:44 am ET
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Jonny Gomes has had a slightly easier time with right-handed pitchers than lefties this year, hitting .256 and slugging .419 against righties compared to .216 and .386 against southpaws entering Friday’s game. Against Andy Pettitte, though, Gomes has never had a problem (his career line against Pettitte is .296/.320/.480), and the Sox wouldn’t have beaten the Yankees 4-2 Friday without his success against the 41-year-old lefty.

In the second inning, with the Sox already up 1-0 on a solo homer from Jacoby Ellsbury, Gomes drove a 2-2 changeup from Pettitte over the left-field wall. Pettitte had thrown the first six pitches of the at-bat outside or on the edges of the zone, but after a cutter bounced in the dirt, Gomes was ready for the changeup over the plate.

“He’s got those two plus-average pitches, obviously, the changeup and the hook, and obviously his deception, his arm angle, commands both sides of the plate,” Gomes said of Pettitte. “It’s definitely not a guessing game, but you’ve kind of got to put your chips into two of his three pitches. It wasn’t a bad pitch, but I hadn’t seen his changeup yet, thought he was going to throw it, and the chips worked out.”

Gomes also doubled to right field in the seventh, putting himself in position to advance on a wild pitch and score on a Jose Iglesias single, giving the Sox a more comfortable 4-2 lead.

Over the last month, Gomes’ numbers have crept up, and he now has a .242/.333/.427 line, with a .760 OPS, on the year. In his last 12 games, he has eight extra-base hits, and he’s hitting .341 in that time.

Gomes credits the improvement to the fact that he’s seen relatively regular action so far in July. He played in six of seven games between July 2 and 8 (although two of those appearances were as a pinch-hitter) and had a double in his last game before the All-Star break. He said nothing significant has changed for him, besides the fact that he’s getting into games more consistently.

“I don’t know if it was going right or not going right – I think there were a few stretches where I went six, seven, eight days without playing, and we’ve kind of bumped into some lefties,” Gomes said. “Got some starts against some righties, just the opportunity and more consistent at-bats.”

If consistent at-bats are the key to Gomes’ success, he may have the chance to keep improving against a couple of strong lefties in the upcoming week - C.C. Sabathia on Sunday and Matt Moore on Monday – as he did against Pettitte on Friday.

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