The Nationals’ Jonny Gomes said he had three choices as he watched Joey Votto’s blast approach him in left field corner. One, he could watch it drop and Votto would have a double. Two, he could turn and see if the ball ricocheted off the wall and Votto would be standing at second base. Or, three, Gomes could go after the ball and get the out.
Gomes took option No. 3, a running catch where the foul line meets the green outfield wall. Gomes caught the ball and collided hard into the padding in the left field corner.
The catch prevented extra bases for Votto in the fifth. In the bottom of that inning, Jesus Flores’ solo shot gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish.
“When you guys like Votto and big hitters, you got to be light on your feet,” Gomes said. “Big out. You could argue that, if that ball falls or I play it off the wall, a run scores (and) it is a whole different game.”
Later in the sixth, with the bases loaded and two outs against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, Gomes smacked a clean single to plate two and the Nationals built their advantage to 3-1.
“That was almost the exact pitch that I grounded to shortstop (in the fifth inning),” Gomes said. “To be able to make an in-game adjustment and get that pitch again and drive it into left field (was) good for me.”
Gomes thought about which play was bigger for him - the catch against the wall or the big insurance hit to extend the lead?
“The defensive play was kind of a little limelight for me,” Gomes said. “I DHed my first four years in the big leagues over in Tampa, so coming over to the National League there was a label about my defense.
“It is tough when you put your glove down for four years and then pick it back up, I don’t care what your trade is, you are going to be a little bit rusty. When I am able to do stuff like that, it turns those non-believers into believers.”