Red Sox Brimming With Confidence as Second-Half Start Begins to Turn Into Something More Promising


 Red Sox Brimming With Confidence as Second-Half Start Begins to Turn Into Something More PromisingBOSTON — Cody Ross smiled as he sat down, fresh off a three-run walk-off home run. Looking out at the group of reporters assembled in front of him, he couldn't suppress a smile.

"I could get used to this," he declared with a Cheshire Cat grin.

The Red Sox certainly could too, as Ross sent the team home happy on Thursday night with a 3-1 win over Chicago. It's the third win in four games for the Sox and the fifth in their last seven, starting the team off on the right foot heading out of the All-Star break.

"That's about as much fun as the guys have had in a long time," manager Bobby Valentine said in the aftermath of another big win. "Good feeling."

The good times have been coming fast and furious for the Sox in the second half, a far cry from the doom and gloom that often permeated the team's atmosphere when they were scuffling early in the year. Now, the team is brimming with confidence, while the players are sure of their abilities and convinced that they can prevail in the end.

Valentine admitted that the coaches had been discussing the possibility of a walk-off home run even in the early stages of Thursday's game, just as a function of how things looked and how the team felt.

"There was a good confidence in this team the whole game," he said.

That confidence turned out prescient at the end, but through the middle times, it looked like the Sox were going to be out of luck despite blowing the doors off Chicago the night before.

Rookie southpaw Jose Quintana was brilliant through eight innings, shutting out the Sox while holding them to five hits. Boston never lost faith, however, and its perseverance paid off in the form off a ninth-inning rally.

"We can keep rolling," Ross declared.

It would be simple to point to the return of Jacoby Ellsbury as a catalyst for the team's run of wins, since he returned in the team's first game after the break and has been stellar. But Ellsbury was a non-factor in this one, going 0-for-4. Rather, it seems to be the idea of having Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia back in the lineup that seems to be affecting the team's attitude.

They're playing with a confidence that they haven't had in a long time, and they seem to be finally gelling as a unit. It's no longer about not having Ellsbury or waiting on Crawford or pointing out that David Ortiz's isn't in the lineup.

Now, the Red Sox know who they are going into battle with, and they're raring to fight with the guys they have.

"That's a team builder," Valentine said of the many contributors in the win. "That's saying we don't have any kinks in our armor. We're a pretty good team."

So far, the Red Sox are pretty good. But after a few more performances like Thursday night's, they'll be great.

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