After taking what seemed like a pretty concluding 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Red Sox bullpen gave up the lead in the ninth.
The combination of Clayton Mortensen, Gerrte Mock and Tony Pena Jr. allowed four runs to the Bison and gave away an almost assured win. The inning included six dreadful walks and kept the Sox from gaining any ground on division leading Lehigh Valley.
Crawford, who was booed during a rehab stint in Pawtucket last year, came out blazing on Thursday night. The rehabbing Red Sox outfielder went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and scored a run in the 5-4 comeback win.
He was a key cog in the PawSox comeback as well, as Crawford along with Che-Hsuan Lin and Ryan Lavarnway sparked a four-run fifth inning en route to taking the one-run lead.
Eight PawSox got a hit in the game, but ultimately it just wasn't enought to keep Buffalo at bay.
Mid 9th, Bison 8-5: Disaster seems like the only appropriate way to describe the PawSox utter collapse in the ninth inning.
After two quick outs to start the ninth inning, five straight Bison reached base, and reliever Garret Mock walked in the game-tying and winning runs.
Then a booted ball by the most unlikely of sources — Jose Iglesias — cost the Sox another run, giving Buffalo an 8-5 lead.
Mortensen was unable to close the job down early in the ninth, walking a pair, and Mock too was unable to finish off the mighty Bison.
Mock walked four batters without recording an out, allowing the Bison to take the lead for good.
End 8th Inning, PawSox 5-4: Podsednik, Iglesias and Spears combined to go for another 1-2-3 inning against the Bison bullpen.
Clayton Mortensen will be on for his third straight inning to close out the game in Pawtucket. All that time in the majors has likely provided Mortensen with the confidence to shut this Triple-A lineup down with no problem.
Mid 8th Inning, PawSox 5-4: Clayton Mortensen mowed down the Bisons in the eighth.
After a leadoff walk, Mortensen forced three straight flyouts to get out of the inning and keep Pawtucket's lead in tact.
9:30 p.m.: Crawford says he "felt good" both throwing and hitting on Thursday.
"I threw the ball the way I wanted to throw it," he added. "I was able to do everything I wanted to do."
Crawford did add that as long as he can contribute and help the team, then he's going to be out in the field and working toward the postseason.
He said he "won't hold back" anything in his return and that he expects to "go all out on the field." Crawford is expected to be back in the Sox lineup on Monday to face the White Sox.
End 7th Inning, PawSox 5-4: The PawSox offense went down 1-2-3 in the inning.
Nobody even sniffed the basepaths, but the Sox still hold a 5-4 lead.
Mid 7th Inning, PawSox 5-4: Clayton Mortensen came on in relief to get the PawSox out of danger.
He looked unbelievable, as he has at times with the Red Sox, striking out Triple-A Home Run Derby champ Valentino Pascucci on three straight pitches.
Alex Wilson showed off his prowess and command on the mound through two innings of work.
Wilson looked like a stud with a solid fastball and mean breaking ball for much of his two innings of work. His ability to locate his pitches is a key for him and he appears to have that ability in tact on Thursday.
Since his transition to the bullpen, Wilson has performed admirably, as he holds a 4-2 record with a 2.68 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 37 innings in relief.
Clayton Mortensen came on in relief of Alex Wilson, after the 25-year-old had a tremendous showing on the mound.
End 6th Inning, PawSox 5-4: After five strong innings at the plate and in the field, Carl Crawford's night is done.
Crawford was replaced in the filed by J.C. Linares. The young outfielder reached on a passed third strike, utilizing one of the most obscure rules in the book to get on base.
Lin and Spears went down easy to kick off the inning, and Ryan Kalish was retired on a pop out, keeping his enigmatic 1-for-4 outing going.
Mid 6th Inning, PawSox 5-4: Alex Wilson turned in a quick 1-2-3 inning and has this game rolling in the right direction for the PawSox.
Alex Wilson was at one time considered to be in the running for a spot in the Red Sox bullpen. Luckily the Sox have had some good fortune in their relief staff this year, but with the way Wilson has pitched tonight there's no reason he shouldn't be up there soon.
End 5th Inning, PawSox 5-4: Carl Crawford was showing off some of his best attributes in the fifth, and a combination of PawSox capitazlied on the rally that Crawford started.
Crawford lined another single into the outfield, looking stronger with the bat on his hand. The single followed Che-Hsuan Lin's single to right, giving the PawSox a bit of a threat.
Lavarnway then shot a double into deep left field, sending Lin to the plate and getting Crawford around to third. Singles from both Lars Anderson and Jonathan Hee continued the rally and gave the PawSox a solid 5-4 lead heading into the sixth.
Crawford may be done for the night, but his presence was definitely felt in this one. He looks like he may be ready for a return to the bigs after all.
Mid 5th Inning, Bison 4-1: PawSox continue their downward spiral as Doug Mathis continues to show his inability to shut down the Bison lineup.
Reliever Alex Wilson started tossing in the bullpen and came in to take over for Mathis, after Buffalo plated another run.
A quick pair of groundouts couldn't help the 29-year-old starter, as he surrendered another run to the Buffalo offense.
Meanwhile, in Carl Crawford watch, the left fielder snagged a rolling grounder deep in the outfield and still seemed to show limited strength on his toss. His elbow is clearly presenting some sort of problem, and he will have a tough decision ahead of him in the coming weeks as he returns to the Red Sox.
Read more about Crawford's tough decision whether to actually finish out this season or not, here on NESN.com
End 4th Inning, Bison 3-1: Jeremy Hefner gets another quick 1-2-3 inning in the books.
After striking out Scott Podsednik, Hefner had Iglesias and Spears ground out to end the inning.
Podsednik is hitting just .230 on the season at Pawtucket, even though he was red hot with a near .350 average during his stint with the big club at Fenway.
He's been recovering from a groin injury, but he may need some more time to adjust if he expects to get back to the bigs anytime soon.
Mid 4th Inning, Bison 3-1: Fred Lewis strikes again.
The former major league outfielder blastes a home run to deep left center for the six-year MLB veteran.
It looks like Lewis' time in the big leagues has given him some confidence against minor league pitching, and with the pace he's on tonight 2-for-3 with two runs and a homer, he could be back in the bigs in no time.
End 3rd Inning, Bison 2-1: Carl Crawford may have cost the PawSox a run in the third inning. He showed some more rust in judgment even after he locked up his first single of the night.
Crawford lifted a pop-up down the line in left field and seemed to believe the ball would tail foul, and stood idly at the plate rather than running out the play. The hit ended in Crawford with a single on first, but Che-Hsuan Lin went all the way to third on the play showing that Crawford could have easily had two bases.
Ryan Kalish knocked Lin in on a single of his own, driving in his 12th RBI of the season to cut the Bison lead to 2-1.
Mid 3rd Inning, Bison 2-0: Nate Spears showed off some leather at second base, but even some stellar defense couldn't keep the Bison off the board.
A pair of leadoff singles followed by the grounder scored leadoff man Fred Lewis from third base and gave Buffalo the 1-0 lead.
On the other side of things, third baseman Andy LaRoche, who has spent a few seasons in the big leagues, misplayed a ball at third base and allowed another run to score, putting the Bison up by two.
End 2nd Inning, 0-0: Jose Iglesias spent three days in Boston earlier this season, working with the Red Sox training staff. And it appears the time with the big league club may have helped his swing.
The impressive shortstop smacked a single to left field in the second inning, showing off some of the much-improved plate discipline he's grown accustomed to.
The inning was still a wash for the PawSox, though, as they were unable to plate Iglesias or Scott Podsednik, who also signled, and the game remains scoreless.
Mid 2nd Inning, 0-0: Good Iglesias or Bad Iglesias?
Jose Iglesias not showing off the exceptional defensive skills he's known for on a leadoff grounder.
Iglesias, who still has not made an appearance for the big league club this season, has found a level of consistency in Pawtucket recently and has continued to develop his unbelievable defensive ability. But not quite on that one.
He did make up for it with some impressive show of the glove on a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, though.
Crawford, meanwhile, didn't show a very strong throwing arm on a grounder into left field. There was no grimmace or anything, but the toss did appear a little weak.
End 1st Inning, 0-0: Crawford may be back on the diamond, but he certainly didn't look like the four-time All Star that signed a $142 million deal last offseason.
Crawford smacked a soft dribbler to the second baseman and was thrown out easily. He didn't set quite the example the Sox had hoped either, as both Ryan Kalish and Ryan Lavarnway both followed suit with groundouts of their own.
That injured elbow may be bothering Crawford, but he did smack a triple in his last rehab outing last week. So at least there's some signs of life left in the outfielder.
Mid 1st Inning, 0-0: Doug Mathis may be a journeyman pitcher, but he looked to have some good stuff in the first half of the first.
Mathis, who spent part of three seasons with the Rangers, has posted good numbers this year. He followed up an early walk to Bison shortstop Josh Rodriguez with a quick strikeout and easy groundball out.
Now it's Crawford's time to shine. We'll see if he can get the PawSox out to an early rally.
7 p.m.: Doug Mathis will be getting the start for the PawSox, taking the hill with a 6-6 record and 4.04 ERA on the season.
Jeremy Hefner, who is 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA on the season, will get the start for the Bison.
Here are the rest of the starting lineups.
Fred Lewis, LF
Josh Rodriguez, SS
Adam Loewen, 1B
Zach Lutz, 3B
Matt Dan Dekker, CF
Josh Satin, 2B
Valentino Pascucci, DH
Matt Tuiasosopo, RF
Rob Johnson, C
Jeremy Hefner, P
Carl Crawford, LF
Ryan Kalish, CF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Lars Anderson, 1B
Andy LaRoche, 3B
Scott Podsednik, DH
Jose Iglesias, SS
Nate Spears, 2B
Che-Hsuan Lin, RF
Doug Mathis, P
5:50 p.m.: Carl Crawford took batting practice at McCoy stadium for about 20 minutes before Thursday night's game.
Crawford was rocking his normal No. 13 jersey out by the batting cage.
He'll be hitting out of the leadoff hole during Thursday night's showdown with the Bisons, and it's likely that he'll return to the Red Sox lineup after this weekend's series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Check it out in the photo below, hat tip to NESN.com MLb reporter Didier Morais for the snapshot.
Photo via Twitter/Didier Morais
5 p.m.: Carl Crawford will be making his return to the baseball diamond on Thursday evening, as the Pawtucket Red Sox play host to the Buffalo Bison at McCoy Stadium.
Crawford, who was well on his way back to the Sox lineup before suffering a minor groin injury, will leadoff and play left field for the PawSox on Thursday. He is expected to go just five innings in the outing, but it should be a good judgment game for the left fielder as he continues his road back to Fenway Park.
Ryan Kalish, who has spent 18 games with the Red Sox in 2012, will start the game in center field and fellow rehabbing outfielder Scott Podsednik will kick things off in the DH hole.
Stick here with the NESN.com Live Blog for all your news, analysis and info on Crawford and the PawSox. And remember to tune into NESN for first pitch at 7:05.