As the Red Sox produced hit after hit and run after run, all on a night when the beloved Tim Wakefield was on the mound in pursuit of history, their glorious rout of the Toronto Blue Jays served to lift the dark cloud that had settled upon the club over the previous week.
No longer were they struggling to score or making outs on the bases or missing cutoff men or turning to the bullpen after just a few innings from a starter. None of those things happened, and the result was an 18-6 pounding that may have the power to alter the course of things over the coming two weeks.
"It was a good night," said manager Terry Francona.
The 18 runs represent a team season high, more than enough for Wakefield to get his 200th win. And just as Boston began to pile on in the later innings, the Tampa Bay Rays coughed one up in Baltimore, extending the Sox' lead in the wild card to four games.
Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup. Almost every regular got a chance to rest in the late innings and nearly every September call-up got a tasted of action. Indeed, after a week of haplessness, just about everything went well.
"Hopefully the momentum that we have … and winning as big as we did will carry us," Wakefield said.
The postgame celebration was all about Wakefield, who was doused in champagne and feted by fans on the Fenway dirt aside the home team's dugout. However, such raucousness might have been appropriate even if there were no milestones.
This was a team in desperate need of a turnaround, and it got it in a major way.
Among the 18 hits were four by Jacoby Ellsbury and four by Dustin Pedroia, who homered twice and doubled twice.
"I was just trying to have a good game and help us win," Pedroia said. "It's been, the last couple of weeks, it's been tough. We've had a tough schedule. We haven't got much sleep. But we're at the time of the year where we all need to step up together and play winning baseball."
One win does not make a season, but it can serve to alter the mindset. For Boston, that involves a renewed focus on doing the things that made it so successful earlier in the season.
"We just have to get back to playing the game pitch to pitch," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had four RBIs. "I think we got away from that. I think we started to try to do too much. So going pitch to pitch, just trying to go out there and play the game the right way and see who comes out on top. We're too good of a team to give games away and not play to our potential."
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