While former Devil Rays player Jonny Gomes was signed to a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox this week, Tampa Bay fans have been reflecting on Gomes’ time spent with the D-Rays. Gomes was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 2001 amateur draft and made his major league debut with the team in September of 2003. However, it was his performance on July 30, 2005, that fans cherish, when Gomes became the first Devil Rays player to hit three homeruns in a single game. The D-Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 7-3 that Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay’s offense was explosive all night as Aubrey Huff hit a lead off single in the bottom of the second inning. Kansas City starting pitcher Zack Greinke walked Nick Green in the next play. Toby Hall doubled to left field, and Huff scored. Joey Gathright batted in the inning’s final run in, with Green scoring. Tampa Bay’s starter, Doug Waechter, got off to a rough start in the top of the third inning as he walked Alberto Castillo, followed by a single hit by David DeJesus. But, Tampa Bay’s defense was able to stop the Royals from scoring by ending the inning with a double play.
In the top of the third inning, everything looked all right for Greinke as he struck out his first batter, Jorge Cantu. However, Jonny Gomes stepped up to the plate and hit his first solo shot of the night, putting the Devil Rays up 3-0. Tampa Bay continued the offensive action in the fourth inning as Toby Hall hit a single to left field. Greinke struck out Gathright but gave up a triple to Julio Lugo, allowing Hall to score.
Gomes struck again in the fifth inning as he hit another one run homerun off of Greinke, but Kansas City’s offense quickly came alive as Terrence Long retaliated with a homerun to lead off the sixth inning. Mike Sweeney singled but took advantage of a throwing error by Tampa Bay’s defense and advanced to second base. He was batted in by Matt Stairs in the following play. After walking Mark Teahen, Tampa Bay pitcher Doug Waechter was relieved by Chad Orvella, only to give up a run to Stairs after Berroa hit a sacrifice fly. However, Orvella redeemed himself in the next inning by striking out his first batter, Castillo, before being replaced by Trevor Miller.
Kansas City reliever Ambiorix Burgos struck out Carl Crawford and Huff in the bottom of the seventh inning, followed by Tampa Bay’s reliever Joe Borowski striking out two of the Royals’ batters and walking Emil Brown in the top of the eighth inning.
Hero Jonny Gomes blasted his way into history in the bottom of the inning when he hit a lead off homerun, making it his third homerun of the night. Gomes’ teammates continued the action throughout the inning as Travis Lee hit a triple then scored off of Hall’s sacrifice fly. Gathright hit a single but was able to advance to second base off of Royals reliever Mike MacDougal’s wild pitch to Julio Lugo.
The only other Rays player to ever hit three homeruns during a single game is Evan Longoria, who has accomplished the feat twice. Longoria first joined Gomes on the elite list for Tampa Bay during his rookie season, when he hit three homers against the Minnesota Twins on September 18, 2008. Longoria’s second time was October 3, 2012, the final night of the 2012 season, while playing against the Baltimore Orioles.