Among the more notable images of the Red Sox’ long homestand was Carl Crawford delivering a walk-off RBI single to beat the Seattle Mariners on May 1. However, the lasting image will be that of Crawford doing it again to defeat the Minnesota Twins in Monday’s finale.
Not only is Crawford, for a month a man on the outs, now part of the party. But he’s practically the host.
“Just another game-winning hit for him,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of his suddenly surging teammate.
Crawford rocketed a double off the Green Monster with one out in the bottom of the 11th on Monday, scoring pinch runner Jose Iglesias all the way from first to end a 2-1 victory in thrilling fashion.
The hit extended Crawford’s hitting streak to nine games, the first of which came in that dramatic win over the Mariners. The Red Sox left fielder is batting .361 (13-for-36) over that stretch, and is beginning to like the idea of being up at the plate in pressure situations. In the first month of the year, he was just about the last guy Boston fans would want to see in such scenarios.
“Walkoffs always are nice,” Crawford said. “You always feel good at the end of the day, so I’d do that anytime, if I could.”
Regardless of if Crawford gets any more chances to end games with a swing of the bat or not, the comfort level he has found in May, after an April to forget, is extremely notable. His teammates, who aggressively mobbed Crawford on the infield grass following the game-ending double, had his back the whole time, saying that they knew he would break out.
Some even felt that the questions throughout Crawford’s .155 April were ill-timed.
“I don’t think you judge somebody when they’re going through a tough spell,” catcher Jason Varitek said. “He’s still going to get even better. He’s still settling in.”
To others, it was a matter of belief in the skills that have made Crawford a star for years.
“As a professional player, you have to believe in what you do,” said fellow newcomer Adrian Gonzalez. “Once Carl was able to let it go and just trust it, he was fine.”
Crawford had a bomb to right field earlier in the game that would’ve been out on most any other night, but the wind was fiercely blowing in. The game-winning shot had to face those same hearty gusts, but Crawford, for a month living on slow rollers to first, had more than enough muscle.
“Yeah, I did,” manager Terry Francona said when asked if he thought the ball would reach the wall after so many others had been knocked down. “Earlier in the game, he crushed that ball to right field.”
It was not only the fact that Crawford made good contact that engendered such confidence in Francona. It was also the fact that his left fielder has been heating up for several days now. The Red Sox expected big hits, and lots of them, from Crawford when they signed him this offseason. After receiving none for a full month, they are beginning to come in droves.