Sox' Ross doing much more than enjoying the ride

Sox' Ross doing much more than enjoying the ride
October 29, 2013, 2:45 am
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GAME 5: RED SOX 3, CARDS 1

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ST. LOUIS -- David Ross has waited a long time to play in his first World Series, through six different organizations and a dozen seasons.

Even when this one started, it was uncertain how much playing time he would get to see. He was paired with Jon Lester in Game 1 of the Series, and it was widely assumed that he wouldn't get another start unless or until Lester did.

But then starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia continued to stumble at the plate, continuing to strike out an alarming rate. Worse, Saltalamacchia committed two critical errors, each of which contributed to Red Sox defeats in Games 2 and 3.

So Ross was back behind the plate Sunday night, guiding a weakened Clay Buchholz through the first four innings and then, two-thirds of the bullpen through the next five.

When Lester got his second start in Game 5, Ross was behind the plate again. The lefty didn't shake Ross off a single time over 91 pitches and the results were near perfect: 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball, with no walks, just three hits allowed and seven strikeouts recorded.

And if that wasn't enough, Ross also supplied the tie-breaking, game-winning double in the seventh, helping the Sox to a 3-1 win over the Cardinals and a 3-to-2 edge in the World Series.

"Just a little back-up curveball (from St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright) that I hit down the line," shrugged Ross. "That felt really good."

A journeyman catcher surely couldn't have imagined this kind of night, this far into his career?

"No sir, no sir," said Ross, shaking his head. "You always strive for this. I"m kind of a more keep-your-head-down-and-work-hard kind of guy. Whatever is going to happen, just take each day as its own. I'm not the kind of guy, I don't feel like, that I can look ahead."

Ross is always in demand, true, but also, frequently on the move. The four seasons he spent in Atlanta before signing with the Red Sox in the off-season were the longest he's ever spent with one organization.

When the Sox offered the security of a two-year deal, Ross jumped.

Now, the Red Sox are glad he did.

Ross, too, is glad he can enjoy this moment, one win away from a championship, after suffering two concussions earlier this season, sidelining him for better than two months.

"The trip I've taken this year, I never thought I'd be here," said Ross. "There were times I was questioning whether my career was over. But thanks to a lot of positive people, good doctors, I'm here. And I've got to thank the manager for having faith in me and putting me in that position."

The manager, John Farrell, is, in turn, pleased that the faith in Ross has paid off.

"It took him probably 25 at-bats once he was activated to finally get his timing," said Farrell. "And once he got it, he's swung the bat through the month of September and in the post-season better than anytime during the year. He came up big tonight. He does such a great job of running the game and had the key double in the seventh for the go-ahead run."

Twelve years after it started, Ross was enjoying his signature moment -- and making sure to soak in every minute of it.

"I think that's what everybody lives for," said Ross. "I'm just kind of in awe of being in the World Series, really. That's as signature as it gets. I'm on the podium (in the interview room), talking to (the media), with the World Series (logo) behind me, right?

"I'm stoked."