Aviles, Saltalamacchia stay hot in Philadelphia

Aviles, Saltalamacchia stay hot in Philadelphia
May 20, 2012, 10:28 pm
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PHILADELPHIA -- A week ago, both were slumping badly. Now, it seems, no one can get Mike Aviles or Jarrod Saltalamacchia out.

Aviles homered for the third straight game Sunday, and led off the game with a homer for the second day in a row, becoming the first Red Sox player in almost a century to accomplish that feat.

For the series, Aviles had five hits and four RBI.

Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, belted a three-run homer well over 400 feet to straightaway center, for his second homer in as many games. Over his last six games, he has three homers and nine RBI.

Together, they accounted for all five runs the Red Sox scored Sunday in a 5-1 win over the Philadlephia Phillies.

"It's the Mike and Salty show, back-to-back days," said Bobby Valentine. "Pretty good to see."

Not since Harry Hooper had anyone homered to lead of two straight Red Sox games, though Aviles said that was hardly his goal.

"It was definitely fun," he said. "I just went up there, trying to set the tone and get on base and fortunate to get a ball to run into the good part of the bat and get one up in the air."

"To do that two nights in a row," said Valentine, "relaxes the offense a little and lets the pitchers know at least (they) have one run when they go out there."

Aviles was struggling not long ago, and his on-base percentage had dipped well below .300, causing Valentine to take a look at Ryan Sweeney as possible options to lead off.

But Sunday, Valentine seemed to commit to Aviles as his permanent leadoff choice -- at least until either Carl Crawford or Jacoby Ellsbury return to good health.

"I see him as the guy, who, if we need a leadoff hitter, he's going to lead off and set a very aggressive pace for our team," said Valentine. "I think we need that."

"It's fine," shrugged Aviles of the assignment. "It's no different than hitting ninth, second, seventh...wherever it is, it's thew same thing. I try to take the same approach - try to get on base and let the guys behind me do the damage.

"If I get on base enough, we have enough guys on this team who can hit the ball in the gap and I know I can run a little bit. I just try to get on base and whatever happens from there, happens."

Meanwhile, Saltalamacchia has also rebounded from a recent slump. After going 0-for-5 against the Indians on May 11, Saltalamacchia had dipped to .221.

Since then, over his last six starts, he's hitting .480 (12-for-26) with three homers and nine RBI.

He also homered in each of the last two games here, a feat made all the more remarkable given that he went to the hospital Friday night after suffering a laceration of the left ear that required a dozen stitches.

The Sox already led 2-0 in the third when Saltalamacchia came up with runners on second and third and one out against Cliff Lee.

"I just made good contact on a 2-0 changeup," said Saltalamacchia, "and I was able to put good wood on it. My only thought was, man on third, I needed to get him in, any way I can and it just worked in my favor."

While emphasizing that he views his catching responsibilities as his top priority, Saltamacchia is enjoying his current hot streak at the plate.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm trying to have a good approach and put good plate appearances together."