Commentary

Cody Ross helps fill void

He pairs with Adrian Gonzalez to provide plenty of pop in rout over White Sox

Updated: July 19, 2012, 1:35 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- On the day the Boston Red Sox placed designated hitter David Ortiz on the disabled list with a right Achilles strain, a two-man offensive explosion led the club to victory.

Cody Ross and Adrian Gonzalez accounted for all the scoring as the Red Sox defeated the Chicago White Sox 10-1 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Ross provided six RBIs on a pair of three-run home runs, while Gonzalez knocked in the other four runs with a homer and two singles.

[+] EnlargeCody Ross
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireCody Ross thought he had his third homer of the game, but his hit in the sixth went for a double.

Ross said he felt like it was one of those nights when every time he stepped into the batter's box with runners on base, something good was going to happen.

It was one of those nights when no matter the speed or trajectory of the baseball, it appeared to be the size of a beach ball just waiting to get pounded.

Ross delivered his first homer in the bottom of the third, depositing a 1-1 offering from White Sox starter Pedro Hernandez into the Monster seats. Ross' second round-tripper came an inning later when he crushed another three-run shot off Hernandez, this one clearing everything in left-center field.

It was the 10th multihomer game of Ross' career and his third this season. Ross has 15 home runs on the year.

Not to be outdone, in the bottom of the fourth, Gonzalez followed with an opposite-field homer into the Monster seats to give Boston an 8-1 lead. It was the fifth time this season the Red Sox hit back-to-back homers.

In the bottom of the sixth, Carl Crawford was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before Ross hit another towering shot, but this one fell short of a home run and hit the Monster for a double.

Ross pimped the double, thinking it was gone. He wanted it to be gone.

"Obviously quite a bit," he said with a laugh. "I thought I got it. I was joking with [White Sox second baseman Gordon] Beckham that the wind started blowing back toward us. I got a little excited, to say the least."

With two men on, Gonzalez ripped a two-run single to right-center field as Boston gained a 10-1 advantage.

Gonzalez has hit safely in 22 of his past 23 games. During the hot streak, he's batting .404 with 5 doubles, 3 homers, 19 RBIs and 14 runs. He also has at least two hits in each of his past four games, which is his longest mulithit streak of the season.

"He's probably one of the hottest hitters in the game right now," Ross said. "It seems like he's got that confidence back and that swagger back that I've seen for years playing against him. Every time he comes up, he's got a chance to do damage. He's such a fun hitter to watch when he's going good. He sprays the ball all over the place, has a lot of power and can hit the ball over the Monster, too."

While Ross and Gonzalez provided all the run support, Red Sox starter Felix Doubront also did his job. The left-hander worked six solid innings and allowed only one run on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Doubront improved to 10-4 and lowered his ERA to 4.24.

"Felix was outstanding tonight," Ross said. "He got himself in a bind early, in that first inning, but he managed to get out of it. He was just dominant after that. He was flipping his curveball over, and getting some swings and misses. He was getting a lot of ground-ball outs. He pitched outstanding, and then the bullpen came in and did an outstanding job."

This victory, however, was all about the offense.

At the beginning of the team's offseason this past October, Boston's baseball operations staff started working on the 2012 roster, and early on in that process, it was evident the Red Sox wanted Ross. He signed a one-year deal with Boston on Jan. 26 as a free agent, and it seems his swing was made for Fenway Park.

"The way my swing has developed over time, I had a good feeling this would be a good spot for me," Ross said. "With that being said, it can easily work against you. If you're thinking consciously all the time that you want to hit the ball over that wall, chances are you're not going to do it. You're probably going to pull a lot of balls foul or roll a lot of balls over.

"My thought process is stay hard up the middle and try to hit the ball as hard as I can up the middle, and my swing path will create that lift that will allow me to hit a lot of fly balls. This is definitely a great place to hit for a right-handed pull hitter."

In 34 games (33 starts) at Fenway, Ross has a .283 average with 10 homers and 31 RBIs.

Prior to the game, the Red Sox learned that Ortiz was placed on the 15-day disabled list, that the club's most consistent and dangerous hitter this season would be out for the next two weeks. It's a major blow to the team's offense. With Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup, along with Dustin Pedroia set to be activated Thursday, it had seemed the Red Sox finally would be near full strength.

If Ortiz hadn't been injured, Thursday's series finale against the White Sox would have been the first time in 2012 that the Red Sox had their entire lineup intact. Now they'll have to wait a little longer.

"Anytime you lose a guy like David, it's tough to make up for," Ross said. "Again, when you have guys getting on base early and you have the heart of your lineup coming to the plate every time with runners in scoring position, it puts a ton of pressure on the team.

"You can't make up for David -- nobody in baseball can because he's one of the best hitters in the game. You just try to pick him up and do your part, and tonight we did."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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