Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
Hello, long ball.
A team full of mashers fulfilled its destiny on Saturday. The Red Sox have always known they have plenty of guys who can hit the big one, but most home runs this season have come as solo shots, or in collected spurts (remember those games with bunches of homers over the Green Monster?).
On Saturday night, the Red Sox waged a collective assault.
Bobby Valentine was spoiling for an offensive onslaught with the lineup he sent out Saturday. After much speculation about Adrian Gonzalez shifting to right field to get David Ortiz batting in a National League park, Valentine made the move on Saturday, and the effects rippled through the batting order.
Mike Aviles led the barrage, showing his love for the leadoff spot with a home run to open the game. In the fourth, Will Middlebrooks found his power stroke again, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed him four pitches later with another bomb. In the fifth, it was Big Papi lighting it up. He homered on the first pitch he saw, scoring Dustin Pedroia in the process.
"Guys like to hit in this ballpark, it seems," Valentine said. "We have good hitters, so it doesn't come as a big surprise. We've scored a lot of runs without really using the home run to our fullest advantage. Tonight put them in the seats."
(And they weren't just in the seats — they were way back in the seats. Speculation had Middlebrooks' and Saltalamacchia's hits at well over 400 feet.)
The power show aside, the game was just what the Red Sox needed. Boston is a club with plenty of distance hitters, and a night where they could just go out and show their ability with the long ball had to do great things for the team's confidence.
With Jon Lester holding it down on the mound, Ryan Sweeney reeling in catches to fire up the defense and the offense putting on a clinic, the 7-5 win was at good as it gets. And the Red Sox have a chance at another one on Sunday.
Saturday's lineup didn't look to be unusual. But not all of the choices were no-brainers. Sending Gonzalez to the outfield took some forward thinking and planning that Valentine has been doing all season. And playing Middlebrooks — as on fire as he's been since being called up — will be sure to stir controversy now that Kevin Youkilis is getting ready to come back.
But Saturday night's combination was what the Red Sox needed to unleash their offensive potential and get a win. Valentine didn't let any other factors get in his way when he filled in the batting order, and the Red Sox acknowledged their manager's choice with a few booming shots on Saturday.