BOSTON -- Of the many words that can be used to describe the Red Sox offense, "aggressive" is not usually one of them.
Patient, yes, as the Red Sox entered Saturday's game against the Oakland Athletics second in the league with 4.12 pitches seen per plate appearance. Slow-starting, sure, with the Red Sox having scored only five runs in the first inning all season long, tied for the lowest total in the league with the Seattle Mariners.
But aggressive? That wasn't the case until Jonny Gomes stepped in with the bases loaded in the first inning of Saturday's game.
"Runner on third, less than two outs, just looking for something to hit the bottom half of the ball, something to elevate," Gomes said. "Worst-case scenario: sac fly. Best: It goes out.
"First-pitch curveball, that was it."
Gomes hit a grand slam off Athletics starter Tommy Milone, his third home run of the season, as the Red Sox jumped out to an early four-run lead that was plenty for ace Jon Lester. David Ortiz and David Ross tacked on solo home runs in the third and fourth inning, respectively, as all of Boston's runs scored via the long ball in their 6-3 win.
"It's pretty nice," Gomes said of his slam." I think it's a lot more nice to be able to give Jon Lester that four-run lead going into the second. Just get a little bit of pressure off him to where he feels he doesn't have to be perfect."
Lester was nearly perfect on the day, allowing only one hit and striking out 15 across eight masterful innings. After the game, he complimented the early offense for helping keep him relaxed.
"Jonny, big swing in the first to put us up four early," Lester said. "That's huge for any pitcher, just kind of takes the weight off your shoulders a little bit."
In his four at-bats on the day, Gomes swung at every single pitch that he saw, eight total, as the outfielder said he was looking to take advantage of the strike-throwing prowess of the A's pitching staff.
"Just wanted to be aggressive early and aggressive throughout the whole game," Gomes said. "I swung at every single pitch I saw today, but, I mean, they were all strikes."
Ortiz and Ross followed a similar strategy on their home runs, as Ortiz fouled two pitches off before lifting a Milone changeup so deep to right that Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick took only a few steps back before watching the ball sail into the stands. In his at-bat, Ross took a ball before launching another Milone changeup into the seats, this time to left field over the Green Monster.
"First month, we were playing a lot of catch-up and put a lot of pressure on ourselves," Ross said. "I'm going to go and put [my home run] on replay at my house tonight."
In games in which they score first, the Red Sox are now 11-3, compared to 4-13 when their opponent scores first. Manager John Farrell believes that the better conditions that come with the summer weather could continue to help jump-start his team's offense.
"I think we've shown that when we score first and you get a start like that with Lester today, it puts you in command," Farrell said. "As the warm weather starts to descend here, guys are feeling a little bit more free and easy at the plate."