Out of sight: Ross' pinch-hit homer powers D-backs
Thanks to new contact lenses, slugger seeing ball much better at plate
PHOENIX -- Cody Ross has not being seeing things clearly this year.
The D-backs outfielder finally got a contact lens issue resolved Tuesday, and on Wednesday afternoon, he launched a pinch-hit three-run homer in the eighth inning to lead the D-backs past the Marlins, 3-1, at Chase Field.
"To be honest with you, I was going up there with blurry vision half the time I was at the plate," said Ross, who was hitting .253 coming into Wednesday's game. "It's hard enough to hit in this league when you have good vision as opposed to when you have blurry vision."
The issue came to a head Monday when he drew an eighth-inning walk but was so focused on his vision issues that he didn't realize it was ball four. After the game, he went into manager Kirk Gibson's office and explained his problem.
Early Tuesday, he was at the eye doctor for three hours trying various lenses and lubricants for them.
Gibson held him out of the lineup Tuesday and Wednesday, but finally convinced Ross was better, he sent him up to pinch-hit.
Miami starter Jose Fernandez (4-4) deserved a better fate. The right-hander held Arizona scoreless through seven innings before tiring in the eighth.
Jason Kubel led off the decisive eighth with a nine-pitch walk, and one out later, Fernandez also walked Didi Gregorius.
Gibson then sent up the left-handed-hitting Eric Hinske to hit for the pitcher, and Marlins skipper Mike Redmond countered by bringing in left-hander Mike Dunn.
Gibson then sent up the right-handed-hitting Ross, who has hit better against lefties over his career, but particularly this year. Coming into the at-bat, Ross was hitting lefties at a .377 clip while righties held him to a .192 mark.
"Do you see what Ross hits against lefties?" Gibson responded when asked why he used Ross in that situation. "I just liked the matchup."
Ross initially jumped ahead in the count 1-0 before Dunn gained the upper hand at 1-2.
"He painted a pretty good fastball away for 1-1, then I chased a slider," Ross said. "And after I swung at that slider, I figured he was probably going to go back to it at some point, so in the back of my head I was sort of looking for it, but staying on the fastball."
Dunn threw a slider on 1-2 and Ross deposited it in the bleachers in left to give Arizona a 3-0 lead.
"I felt like I executed a good pitch there," Dunn said. "He just hit it. It was a slider down and in. It was a slider for a strike, not a chase pitch."
Things got dicey in the top of the ninth, as closer Heath Bell allowed a run and had to pitch out of a first-and-second nobody out jam to record his 13th save.
Lost amid Ross' homer and the excitement at the end was an outstanding relief performance by Josh Collmenter, who came in for starter Trevor Cahill, who was forced to leave the game after being hit by a line drive at the end of the first inning.
The ball off the bat of Marcell Ozuna struck Cahill in his right hip and ricocheted to third baseman Martin Prado, who threw Ozuna out at first to retire the side.
Cahill came out for the second inning, but he was removed with a 2-1 count on the first batter of the inning, Derek Dietrich, with a bruised right hip.
Collmenter threw five hitless innings before finally giving up a hit to start the seventh.
Overall, Collmenter threw six innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out seven. It was the second-longest relief appearance in Arizona history behind Randy Johnson's seven-inning relief stint on July 19, 2001
"I was just trying to throw strikes," Collmenter said. "They've got some guys that can do damage and guys that swing the bat pretty freely."
Collmenter does not have overpowering stuff, which can lead to some frustration on the other side.
"Looked to me like he was throwing some pretty good pitches to hit," Redmond said. "He did throw a few changeups -- that's his pitch -- but I was surprised he shut us down that many innings."