CINCINNATI -- You want energy? Having both Jonny Gomes and Adam Rosales on the Reds could be equal to downing a case of Red Bull chased by a case of Mountain Dew. The timing of Gomes' boost could not have been better. Freshly called up to the Majors from Triple-A Louisville, his first-pitch, pinch-hit double in the eighth inning started the winning rally in the Reds' 3-1 win over the Indians in Friday's opener of the Ohio Cup Interleague series.
"That's why he is here, to give us that spark. That was huge," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Gomes. "That's how you pinch-hit. You try to get a good pitch to hit and knock fire from it."
Before Gomes' hit, the Reds had only two in the first seven innings, and both were from Alex Gonzalez. Through six innings, they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners. Cincinnati managed just one first-inning run on a sacrifice fly vs. Indians starter Anthony Reyes, who walked six and hit a batter in three wild innings before he left with elbow inflammation. "I was getting very upset looking at all those baserunners out there, but our guys kept fighting," Baker said. Fast forward to the start of the Reds' eighth. Batting for left-handed-hitting Laynce Nix, Gomes smoked a first-pitch changeup from lefty Aaron Laffey (3-1) down the left-field line. He punctuated his run to second base with a popup slide and clapped while standing on the bag. The Reds called up Gomes, a six-year veteran of the Rays, for added offense and didn't have to wait to get it. "I got into a nice routine there in Louisville. My routine will change here," said Gomes, who signed a Minor League deal with the Reds as a free agent over the offseason. "It's a little different in the American League ... where you can kind of just veg out when you're not in the lineup. [In the National League], you have to stay focused and ready. I went up there aggressive and got a good pitch." After Ramon Hernandez popped out, Rosales laced an RBI double to the left-field wall that scored pinch-runner Chris Dickerson. It was redemption for Rosales, who was in a 0-for-14 skid that included leaving the bases loaded in the first inning with a popout. "You hit your little ruts sometimes in baseball and get your ups and downs," Rosales said. "I was a little frustrated in the beginning, because I left the bases loaded. You have to stick with it. Your teammates keep encouraging you to stay positive. It's a long game. You really have to trust yourself and know you have more at-bats and can't throw yourself out of the game that soon." Gonzalez's third hit of the game, an RBI single to left field, added insurance. The big inning rewarded a nice effort by Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (6-3), who gave up one earned run and five hits with two walks and two strikeouts. The right-hander also induced three ground-ball double plays. The only Cleveland run came on Grady Sizemore's first-inning homer into the right-field bullpen. "You don't get an opportunity that often to come out of a game in the eighth inning with a tie game and get a win," Arroyo said. "Jonny Gomes came through at the right time. It was huge for him to come up today and get off to a good start." Francisco Cordero was dominant in the ninth with two strikeouts and earned his 11th save. For the 22-19 Reds, who had lost five of their previous six games, it was important to beat the Indians, who have the AL's worst record at 16-27. In his short time in the Majors, Rosales has gotten attention for his high intensity play. He sprints during home runs and walks to first base. Gomes brought his own kind of intensity to Spring Training as a non-roster player and nearly made the team before being one of the final cuts. "We know Jonny from watching him. He's got a lot of energy," Arroyo said. "If a fight breaks out, he'll be the first person there. He brings that same kind energy that Adam does. When he's playing well, you see it out there on the field." For Gomes, it wasn't just an important double but affirmation for sticking through some tough times. He was non-tendered over the winter by Tampa Bay and signed late with the Reds. Being cut in spring was also a disappointment he had to work through at Louisville, where he batted .282 with a team-high nine homers and 27 RBIs. "These guys in a uniform can tell you the inner feeling that it really is. Much more than a double," Gomes said. "You're down there grinding in Triple-A, looking up and finally getting here and helping the team win. It's pretty much everything you do your offseason regimen for -- your Spring Training for. For that to work out, it's pretty exciting for me."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.