Standing next to some of his teammates, diminutive Giants utility man Cody Ross could easily be mistaken for a team manager or an off-duty concessionaire.
But in Thursday night’s National League Division Series opener, when his team needed him most, Ross came up big for the Giants.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Ross rapped a single to left field, just underneath the glove of third baseman Omar Infante and just far enough to score a hustling Buster Posey from second base for the only run of the night. For the game, Ross went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a walk, a stat line that amounted to veritable offensive explosion in a 1-0 Giants win in which hits were at a premium.
That Ross provided the only run in the game is a surprise for a number of reasons. For starters, the 29-year-old journeyman wasn’t even with the team until Aug. 23, when the Giants picked him up after the Florida Marlins placed him on waivers, a midseason acquisition that hardly grabbed the attention of many baseball pundits.
After contributing three home runs and seven RBIs in mostly spot duty with the Giants, Ross eked out a spot on the postseason roster, mostly due to the fact that a more prized midseason pickup, veteran Jose Guillen, sustained a neck injury and still isn’t 100 percent.
Regardless of how he made his way onto the squad, Ross came through on a tough offensive night, when Lowe’s sinkerball was inducing out after out on harmless ground balls.
“He’s good on both sides of the ball and he’ll make contact,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Ross. “Cody threw out some good at-bats tonight, and he has the last couple of weeks, and that’s why he was out there tonight.”
With Guillen’s return in question, Ross will likely see plenty of playing time in right field, and he will be counted on to provide some timely hits in a Giants offense prone to bouts of anemia. Ross has proven the pressure won’t get to him, as evidenced by his 4-for-6 performance in the Giants’ pivotal three-game series against the San Diego Padres to close the regular season.
“[Ross] is a good player,” said Bochy. “And that’s why we got him.”
21 Combined strikeouts by both teams
7 Combined hits by both teams Thursday
3 Combined extra-base hits by both teams
1 Run-scoring hit (Cody Ross)