Well, you had to figure Adrian Gonzalez being scratched (illness) from the Boston Red Sox lineup at the last minute on Friday night could create a hole for them defensively. And of course, it most certainly did, but not in a way you would expect.
Gonzalez's replacement for the night, Mauro Gomez, is not the anchor Gonzalez is over at first base. He doesn't possess the range Gonzalez does. He's not as adept at picking the ball out of the dirt cleanly. Also, he's right-handed, which means he's not nearly as smooth starting double plays or applying tags on pickoff throws (though he did get one successful tag down).
All of those deficiencies were understood going in, but none of them were at the root of Gomez's problem. It was actually a faulty piece of equipment — or Will Middlebrooks' superhuman arm strength — because his lone misplay in the game actually occurred when a routine first inning throw across the diamond from Boston's third baseman literally created a hole in his glove. Yes, the throw broke right through the webbing, allowing Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton to reach base safely.
Here's a look at an equipment manager's worst nightmare:
Gomez was charged with the tough luck error on the play, which extended the Rays first inning threat. But in a rare turn of positive events for Bobby Valentine's crew, Franklin Morales was able to work around the odd miscue and put up the first of five zeros over his five inning start.
As I alluded to earlier, Gomez would finish the night in the field without further incident after switching to a healthy glove. His night at the plate, however, never did get on track as he ended up going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and an inning-ending double play in the seventh. But like Morales did for him in the first, his teammates picked him up with the bats. David Ortiz cracked his 23rd home run of the season (a solo shot in the first) and Pedro Ciriaco later delivered a two-run single as the Red Sox opened the second half with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
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