Boston Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. Here he discussed the week in which he hit three three-run home runs, including a walk-off; whether he's worried about the trade deadline; and how Saturday he did something he'd never done before. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta.)
This week has been fun. We went on the road and played well in Tampa and then came home and took three of four from Chicago. This week has really been amazing. Fenway is such a great hitters' park. For my swing, it plays well. I'm not conscious about trying to hit home runs. You don't have to be here. All you have to be is worried about squaring the ball up and it will go. This is the first time I've ever been able to have a hitter-friendly park at home. It's nice.
Especially here in the American League, I don't really know the pitchers all that well. It has taken some time to get used to how they're going to pitch me and how they're going to attack me. It has been a little bit of a struggle because there are guys I've never faced before. Your first time around, you just try to get a feel of how they're pitching. So as time goes on, you get more used to it and you start recognizing pitches. Even in a single game, when you come up to the plate that second, third and fourth time, as I get into the flow of the game my adrenaline goes up and I'm more into it. The longer the game goes on, the more into it I get.
So with Wednesday's game, that's what happened as I faced Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez is a lefty and throughout my career I've hit lefties better than hitting righties. You see the ball better out of their hand as a right-handed hitter. Same goes with a right-handed thrower and a left-handed hitter. The balls are breaking into us as righties instead of away. I've never had a problem facing righties and I've faced them my whole life. There weren't too many lefties in middle school and high school. For some reason, I just had more success against lefties. I had two three-run home runs this night. My last at-bat, I got really excited when I saw the ball in the air and I thought I had enough but it barely got to the wall. I got caught up in the moment. It definitely gave me a little bit of a thrill for a second. To be honest with you and not to sound cliché, helping my team win is what will stick with me from this game. That is the most important thing to me, hitting home runs when it counts. Hitting a homer when you're up 8-1 is always nice but it's not as gratifying as hitting home runs that help your team win.
From a young age going back to Little League, I have always liked being the guy up with the game on the line. I feel the same way now and enjoy that feeling and want to thrive in it, which is what happened with Thursday's game. So in the bottom of the ninth inning with two runners on, I'm up at the plate and I hit the ball. I'm watching it and hoping it has the distance. When I initially hit it, I thought that it had enough. Then I see that it clears the wall and I see first-base coach Alex Ochoa with his hand up to high-five. It was exciting, about as exciting a moment as you can have on a baseball field. I'm running around the base path just filled with joy. I hit third base and I look at home and realize I'm about to get crushed in a pile of teammates. I knew to take my helmet off so they don't pound me too hard. As soon as I hit home plate I see Nick Punto there, aka The Shredder. He just grabs my jersey and rips it to shreds. Shredding jerseys was his trademark in St. Louis as they had a lot of walk-off hits and a bunch of big wins downs the stretch and in the playoffs obviously. So I got to meet The Shredder. Alfredo Aceves threw a bucket of Gatorade and I got a bunch of it on me. It actually felt refreshing. What a special moment and something I can cherish for a while.
After all that, we go into the clubhouse and there were a lot of high-fives as guys were still excited. Big Papi is our DJ and so he played some Michael Jackson music. While I like Michael Jackson, that was not played especially for me, it's what we always play after a win. It's nice to come in after you win and hear loud music blaring. Next up was time to go to the interview room and I had my son, Hudson, join me. He was in the family room and watched my home run on the TV. He says he watches every single one of my at-bats. I asked him if he watches anybody else, he said no, that he plays, but when I come to the plate he stops and watches my at-bats. He told me, "Nice home run," and was very happy. In the clubhouse, guys were coming up to me saying, "Good job, congratulations." He asked me, "Daddy, why is everybody congratulating you?" I explained it to him as humbly as I could. Hudson has his nameplate on my locker -- all the guys with sons do. But D'Angelo has his own locker next to David Ortiz's because he is the king of all the kids.
I've been fortunate to hit two other walk-off home runs before Thursday's. This will be one of the home runs that I'll never forget. Hearing the crowd and the roars was special. I've never hit a walk-off home run in front of a packed house before. It was just incredible. Just to feel the energy was amazing. I've got the jersey from the game and it has blue Gatorade all over it and I'm having all the guys sign it and then I'll frame it.
You hope after a win like that it sparks the team to go on a winning streak. But baseball is such a crazy game, sometimes that stuff will carry over and you get on a roll and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you come out flat and not play well and that's kind of what happened. It's just the way it is and there really isn't any way to explain it. We feel like we have a good team and we're capable of doing really good things.
Well it has been quite a week, but what else has been going on? Over the All-Star break, my family and I went to Cape Cod with a few other players and their families. We just relaxed out by the pool and didn't think about anything. We just enjoyed the time off. We went on a sailboat and just had an amazing time.
We've started the second half of the season and so far this season has consisted of a lot of ups and downs. As injury-plagued as we've been, we've played fairly well. We're finally starting to get healthy with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back. It took such a long time to get the three of us in the same outfield. It's nice to look up and see those guys out there and they're contributing. Also great to have Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) back from his thumb injury but as soon as all these guys come back what happens? We lose our best hitter in Big Papi. It's kind of been the way it's been going this year. We're a veteran enough team that we're not going to let this get us down. We somehow have to figure out a way to pick up Papi. We're not going to replace a hitter like him, but we can fill in and do our jobs to get us through this period until he gets back.
I've had a few remarks after Larry Lucchino referred to me as "cheerful," but I tell you what, I like being called cheerful. I am cheerful. Only time I'm not is when I'm not in the lineup, then I'm not happy. I don't like not being out there. I like to play. But that's the way every player should feel, you want to be out there helping your team. There are certain days you need off or you need a rest. The season may be long but it feels short and you want to get in there and help the guys win as many games as possible to get to that ultimate goal which is the playoffs.
Saturday against the Blue Jays I had a first: first time I ever was the DH. As far as I can remember, this is my first time ever in the major leagues I've DH'd. I did it some in the minors a little bit and enjoyed it. You don't have to think about anything except hitting. It's almost like a half-day off. I'm excited about it.
Also on Saturday was Thanks Tek Day here at Fenway. I didn't get to play with him, but I certainly know about his reputation here. He's a guy who was certainly loved in this city for a long time for all he did here. I know the fans are excited for him to come back so they can see him. When you have a city get behind you like that and show you love, then you're in a pretty good spot. Another homecoming was for Youk this past week. I thought it was awesome the reception Kevin Youkilis got when he came back to Fenway. To hear the fans cheer for him and show him the respect for all that he did here and all of his accomplishments was great. He poured his heart and soul out for this organization and the city for many years. They appreciated it. He did well against us. I didn't like that too much.
The trade deadline is fast approaching. For me, I'm past the nervous stage now. I know there are still rumors, though. Even this year, people are talking about me. But you can't let it bother you because it's something you can't control. Hopefully I'm not traded because I'd really like to stay here but you never know. I will say, I'm definitely not worrying about it. I think we have a really good team. There's no real spot that I can say we really need to improve. We have a good group of guys that come out and pour out their heart and soul on a nightly basis to try to win. I like our team.
So Bobby Valentine says he thinks my nickname should be CoRo. What's funny is one of my good friends from high school, who is still my friend to this day, coined that a long time ago. Guys called me that for a while and then it went away and now I guess it's back. Let me know what you think.
Next up, we head for Texas and then on to New York. It's going to be some tough series with a lot of tough games. We're going to have to bring our A-game on the road. You're going into Texas, which is one of the best teams in all of baseball and then right into New York. We need to get on a roll here and keep it going.