“Honestly, I had this game circled on my calendar for a while,” Ross said. “I knew coming back in the later part of the year, I was excited to get back and see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of friends.”
And put up some familiar numbers.
Ross went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in his long-awaited return to Fenway Park. The outfielder played in 130 games for the Red Sox in 2012 before signing a three-year deal with the Diamondbacks in the offseason.
“Obviously it feels good to have success against your old team or any team that sort of let you go,” Ross said.
“You concentrate a little bit more. Almost feels like ... for me ... it feels like a playoff-type deal. You don’t want to give away any at-bat.”
Ross lived up to just that against his former teammate Jon Lester, lining a double to center in his first at-bat before getting RBIs with a single in the third and double in the fifth.
“He came back with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder,” Lester said. “But when he steps in that batter’s box it’s just another hitter I’ve got to get out. Obviously I didn’t do that.”
Red Sox reliever Pedro Beato wasn’t able to do that either, leaving a slider over the middle of the plate that Ross deposited just over the left-field wall for a go-ahead home run in the seventh. Not unfamiliar to Red Sox fans, the home run was promptly celebrated with one of Ross’ signature bat flips, this time with a little extra juice put into it.
“That was a weak one,” Ross joked after the game. “That was an ‘I don’t really know if that’s going to go or not,’ [flip].”
In 66 games at Fenway last season, Ross led the Red Sox with 49 RBIs and was tied with David Ortiz for the team lead in home runs with 13. His 25 doubles also tied for the team lead (Adrian Gonzalez) at home and were 16 more than he had hit in 64 away games.
“He’s got a swing that fits this ballpark,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Although the 32-year-old enjoyed the same kind of success that he had at Fenway in 2012, it took only a span of five at-bats for the crowd’s friendly atmosphere to turn on him. Stepping in for his final at-bat in the ninth, scattered boos could be heard as he walked to plate, a big difference from the ovation he received in his first at-bat.
“They were cheering for me and then giving me a hard time too so it was good,” Ross said. “I was happy with the way -- when they announced my name -- the way it went down.”