David Ross strolled around the pregame clubhouse belting out lyrics from ’90s hits. In one inspired moment he shouted, “Jonny Gomes!” to his teammate, who was standing nearby giving an interview. Gomes happily returned the greeting.
After the Red Sox’ 6-0, series-sweeping win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, Ross, the Sox’ happy and humble catcher, was even happier.
Ross and Daniel Nava, another member of manager John Farrell’s platoon of platoon players, powered the Red Sox to their fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games.
Ross, who alternates starts with the freshly promoted Christian Vazquez, hit his sixth home run of the season, a two-run bomb in the fourth inning that extended the lead to 5-0. Nava, who played left field, was 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs, his most since September.
Together, Ross and Nava drove in five of the Sox’ six runs.
“It was nice, hitting the home run. Get us a little bit of a cushion with Jon [Lester]. I mean, he didn’t need much today,” Ross said, deflecting praise to Lester, who pitched eight innings and allowed only four hits.
“I think over the last 10 games he’s played, he’s had a little bit of a flair for the moment with the home run capability,” manager John Farrell said of Ross, whose shot into the Monster seats was his fourth homer in his last 10 games.
Nava, meanwhile, has at least one hit in 10 of his last 11 games with an at-bat and is batting .337 since June 2. On Sunday, he had a two-run, ground-rule double and sacrifice fly.
“He’s done a good job when we haven’t started him every day, where he hasn’t been starting against some lefthanders — but to stay ready, come in, and contribute, as he did today,” Farrell said.
Nava said his philosophy is uncomplicated: “You need an approach where you hit it where they’re not.”
Less simple is to do what Farrell’s legion of non-everyday players have done this season: Step into the lineup when asked and play well.
They’re not perfect — Ross is hitting .175 overall and Nava .246 — but Farrell acknowledged that their task is not appealing. The manager feels for them.
“It’s a difficult role,” Farrell said before the game, talking about Mike Carp but applying his words to the other platooners. “He’s done a very good job of not being in a starting role or get an at-bat over a 3-7-day span, and you insert him and he puts up a quality at-bat. And you begin to empathize with the role that they’re in. Because he’s going to go up against a guy today who’s throwing in the high 90s, and [he] hasn’t seen an at-bat since the All-Star break.”
Carp, who started at first base and went 0 for 2 with two walks, was playing for the first time in a week. Other players who don’t start every game — Gomes, Jackie Bradley Jr., Stephen Drew, and Vazquez — also played vital roles in the weekend sweep. Gomes hit a two-run home run Friday, Drew’s defense Sunday was invaluable, and Bradley had two hits and two runs.
The production from the bottom of the order — Ross batted eighth and Bradley ninth — eased the reliance on the Sox’ primary hitters.
“If you can create some offense or runs in that bottom third — typically you’re going to realize in that top half of the order — if they perform to their capabilities, you’re looking at a day where you’re going to put up five, six, seven runs,” Farrell said. “That was the case today.”
“I think it takes a lot of pressure off those guys trying to do so much — guys like David [Ortiz] and Dustin [Pedroia] — when guys at the bottom can help out,” Ross said.Rob Harms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @harms__way.