BOSTON Cody Ross knew Luke Hochevar made him look silly in the first inning. The Royals right-hander fed Ross four straight curveballs to strike him out. Ross looked at the first two for called strikes, let the third one go for a ball, and swung unsuccessfully at the fourth, ending the inning.
So, he was expecting the curve when he faced Hochevar again in the third, with two outs and two on. Ross was behind, 1-and-2 without seeing the curveball. But, on the next pitch, Hochevar delivered and Ross was waiting. He banged the curveball off the wall in left field for two runs. That Ross was thrown out at second, ending the inning, trying to stretch a double mattered little. He had put the Red Sox ahead, by two runs on their way to a 5-1 win.
Hes got a really good curveball, Ross said. I figured at some point I was going to see it again. Luckily, it was a good one to hit and got some good wood on it.
Thats the hitter making in-game adjustments and batting fourth, rising to the occasion as he has all year, said manager Bobby Valentine. Hes been a really good player for us.
Ross led the Red Sox offense in Monday afternoons win, going 2-for-4, with three RBI and a run scored. He used his Fenway-perfect swing for a two-run single off the Wall in the third and an RBI double to left in the sixth.
My swing has always been like this, he said. Finally got to play in a place that it actually works.
Ross is batting .281 this season, with 19 home runs and 67 RBI. At Fenway Park, though, he is batting .315 with 21 doubles, 13 home runs and 47 RBI. Its safe to say he enjoys hitting at home.
Its really nice, he said. Both those balls that I hit today were legit doubles. The first one probably could have been a homer in most places. But its definitely nice to use that to our advantage, thats for sure.
Ross is eligible to be a free agent at the end of the season.
Id be lying if I tell you I dont think about it. he said. But I dont put a whole lot of thought into it. I worry about going in day in and day out and doing my job. Thats a way I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the year and say I gave it my all. And if Im worried about other stuff that I really cant control, then Im not putting forth my best effort. So all that stuff will work itself out as long as I got out and keep playing.
General manager Ben Cherington said over the weekend, after the Sox completed the nine-player trade with the Dodgers, he would like to bring Ross back next season. Thats always nice for a player to hear, and for Ross especially. He is with the sixth team in his nine-year career.
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, he said. Any time you have a team that feels like they want to invest a little into your future then its nice. Ive really never had that.
And now with two consecutive wins, the trade completed, Ross hopes the Sox can go on the road with some momentum, some calm, and just worry about playing baseball.
I think we have, he said. Its fun. You got some young guys out there that I think are hungry and trying to prove themselves. Just playing relaxed and enjoying it. Never really had a whole lot of that this year. So its nice to have that feeling.