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Tigers don't hit back for Gomes' HR show
By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 11, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - There is a dent in the roof of the Batter's Eye restaurant where Jonny Gomes ' mammoth homer landed Saturday night and a green paint stain on the ball that will make a nifty souvenir.
But there are no bruises on Gomes' body because the Tigers, while unhappy with the rookie's actions after his 474-foot winning hit, decided not to hit back.
Gomes talked with several Tigers before Sunday's game, including catcher Ivan Rodriguez , who seemed the most upset Saturday night, and said they told him there were no hard feelings.
"I let them know I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings or disrespect anyone or anything," Gomes said. "I was overcome with emotion is what it was."
Gomes, though, still wasn't sure of their intentions, especially when he led off the ninth and the Tigers brought in hard-throwing Kyle Farnsworth and had another pitcher warming up.
"I just wanted to get out of that at-bat alive," Gomes said. "I step into the box and (Rodriguez) looks up at me and goes, "You ready?' I go, "Yeah, I'm ready. Are you ready?' He goes, "Yeah, let's go.' And I'm like "Oh, s---, here we go."'
Farnsworth threw sliders instead of inside fastballs, Gomes struck out and the incident appeared to be forgotten.
There was speculation about retaliation because Gomes walked a few steps toward first as he watched the ball Saturday night, waving his teammates out of the dugout to celebrate, then flipping his helmet off halfway between third and home.
"Everyone can do things the way they want to do them, and you don't have to like it," said Troy Percival , who gave up the homer. "You make a statement on what kind of player you're going to be."
Rays manager Lou Piniella said: "If Barry Bonds had hit that ball, nobody would even be talking about it. It just so happens it was a young kid caught up in the moment a little bit. We broke a 10-game losing streak. It's exciting for a young guy to get you off the field with a win."
HISTORICAL CONTEXT: Gomes' homer was only the fifth in the past 50 years to end a losing streak of 10 or more games, according to research by the Rays and SABR's David Vincent . Then-Ray Randy Winn went deep off Baltimore's Jorge Julio to end a team-record 15-game streak on May 11, 2002. The others were hit by Marv Throneberry of the Mets in 1962, Detroit's Mickey Tettleton in 1993 and Detroit's Brandon Inge (off Percival) in 2003.
STARRY-EYED: Danys Baez left Sunday evening for the All-Star Game in Detroit, excited to take wife Mireya, daughter Daniella and parents Miriam and Gilberto, who defected from Cuba last summer. "It's going to be unbelievable," Baez said. "This is my fifth season in the big leagues and I've seen a lot of other guys go and it was great, and it's going to be great for me to do it now. And the opportunity to take my mom and dad and my family is even better."
GETAWAY DAYS: Last year, Carl Crawford was headed to his first All-Star Game in his hometown of Houston. His return home this week will be a little quieter.
"I'm just going to go home and take it easy," Crawford said. "Nobody will even know I'm in town this year." Several Rays changed their plans because of Hurricane Dennis. "I was going to go to some exotic island but I had to shut it down," said pitcher Scott Kazmir , who will go home to Houston as well.
MEDICAL REPORT: Doug Waechter had what athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw termed an "encouraging" throwing session, with only minimal discomfort from the sore tendon in his right index finger. The right-hander will test it in a bullpen session Wednesday and could rejoin the team by the end of the week. ... Infielder Alex Gonzalez said the strain in muscles near his neck is getting better, but he is not ready to return and didn't know if he would be when play resumes Thursday. He is planning to get X-rays "to see if everything else is okay, the joints and the vertebrae, to make sure everything else is lined up."
MISCELLANY: The Rays are 0-8 in the games before the All-Star break. ... They are 1-13 on Sundays, 5-18 in day games. ... Shortstop Julio Lugo was 10-for-15 in the four-game series. ... Montgomery's Jason Hammel , a top pitching prospect, left Saturday's game because of tightness in his groin.