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 the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
Will Middlebrooks has proven time and again this season that he is the future of the Red Sox at third base.
After yet another offensive explosion on Thursday night, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, Middlebrooks is now hitting a staggering .316 with eight homers — fourth most on the team — and 31 RBIs on the year. But while Middlebrooks continues to draw the praise and attention from Red Sox Nation, it's been the quiet work of Daniel Nava and now Ryan Kalish that have really been the backbone behind Boston's recent success.
Since being called up from Triple-A in early May, Nava has been nothing short of fantastic. In 35 games, Nava's hit .340 with a pair of home runs, 21 RBIs and an even more astounding .973 OPS. He's also been an outstanding defensive addition, leading all Red Sox outfielders with four defensive assists during his stint.
Nava has provided the Sox with an incomparable energy that has helped the limping Sox power through an injury-plagued season. And while the Sox outfield has grown even thinner in recent weeks — with Ryan Sweeney and Scott Podsednik joining Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury on the DL — Kalish's return has brough its own revitalizing kick to the club.
Four games may be too small a sample size to truly evaluate his impact, but Kalish has been a much-needed steadying presence for the Sox during his short stint. He's gone just 4-for-15 with a pair of RBIs, but the energy that he's inserted into the team with his hustle and commitment has shown the importance a guy like that can have.
The Red Sox eighth inning rally on Thursday night was clear proof of both players' impact on the team, as they made huge contributions to the Sox pulling out a win and the sweep against the Marlins.
Manager Bobby Valentine was cognizant of the impact his young guns had in the win, and he made sure to recognize their efforts after the 6-5 victory.
"Kalish wasn't going to be denied… [he] saw Reyes [go first to third] earlier and said 'I could do that,'" Valentine said with a proud smirk on his face. "And Daniel just delivered."
Kalish's hustle play, going from first to third on a Mike Aviles groundout, allowed Nava an opportunity to make something happen with two outs and the go-ahead run on base. And just as he has since arriving to the big club, Nava popped a single into the outfield and drove in the game winner to cap off the comeback win.
The duo, who have been awfully chummy since being reunited in the majors a few days ago, have proven their ability to produce at the big league level since each players recall. But it's becoming even more apparent that guys like Nava and Kalish are extremely important to the Sox finding success this season.
So while Middlebrooks gets the praise and glory from fans — which he rightfully deserves — Nava and Kalish will continue to quietly produce and make the plays necessary for the Red Sox to succeed.