It was a blast from the past
Crawford wallops first HR for Boston
ANAHEIM, Calif. — With the Red Sox turning their season around, Carl Crawford was starting to wonder when the same was going to happen for him. The team’s new left fielder, off to the worst start in his career, had run out of explanations for his slump.
One swing returned a smile to Crawford’s face yesterday.
Crawford belted a slider from Hisanori Takahashi over the fence in right field in the sixth inning, helping the Red Sox to a 7-0 victory against the Angels.
In the context of the game, it was a little padding as the Sox were already ahead, 4-0. But for a player desperate to contribute, it was huge.
“That was really nice,’’ he said after going 2 for 4. “I was glad I was just able to do something.’’
It was an impressive at-bat. After taking two sliders for called strikes, Crawford fouled off another then took three pitches for balls. After another foul ball, he laid into a slider over the heart of the plate.
“I was able to get some wood to it. I was just trying to battle him,’’ Crawford said.
It was Crawford’s first home run with the Red Sox and his first since Oct. 2, a stretch of 83 at-bats.
“I’m just happy I got my first one out of the way,’’ he said.
Crawford is 7 for 27 (.259) with three extra-base hits and five RBIs in his last seven games. That doesn’t sound like much. But he was hitting .127 with one extra-base hit and one RBI over the first 13 games.
“I’ve been feeling a little bit better. I’m not out of the woods yet. I’m still in a grind mode. But things are starting to get a little bit better,’’ he said.
The players in the dugout seemed to be rooting for the ball to go out as much as Crawford was. Once he circled the bases, the celebration started with head slaps and hugs.
“There are a lot of guys pulling for him. They see how hard he’s working. That’s a good feeling,’’ manager Terry Francona said.
Said Adrian Gonzalez: “Everybody loved it. All those things are great. He had some really good at-bats here in Anaheim. We all know it’s just a matter of time. He’s going to end up hitting .300 just as he does every year.’’
Employing the roster Jed Lowrie is hitting .431 with hits in 21 of his last 44 at-bats. He also is tied for the team lead with 12 RBIs.
But the emerging star took a seat on the bench as Marco Scutaro started at shortstop. Francona also gave J.D. Drew a day off, starting Mike Cameron in right field.
The moves paid off. Scutaro was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored while Cameron drove in a run.
“I want to get Scutaro a game. I think it’s important. Jed’s played a bunch in a row,’’ Francona said before the game. “The same thing with J.D. Give J.D. a day after the quick turnaround and let Cam play a game. I think it balances us out a little bit. I try to do it on days that make sense. That’s kind of what we’re thinking.’’
It’s a sign of how secure Francona is with his position that he would rest such a hot hitter. But in his mind, it was the right thing to do.
“I think it makes sense,’’ he said. “I think he’s swinging the bat really well. I think sometimes you reach too far with guys and you set them back. All of a sudden he’s been playing a lot. I think you can help him out a little bit by doing this.’’
Cameron, a full-time player throughout his career, has only 24 plate appearances in 21 games this season. Yesterday was his sixth start.
“He’s handled it great, about as professional as you can be. We’re going to need him. We can’t let him sit or you lose your stroke,’’ Francona said. “You don’t want to run them up there against Felix Hernandez after sitting for 10 days.’’
Scutaro is hitting .281 in his last 10 games with seven walks and six RBIs.
“Scoot’s a good player,’’ Francona said. “We’ve run into a situation where Lowrie’s been a tremendous player.’’
Scutaro understands that Lowrie deserves to play. He appreciated Francona giving him a chance.
“I’ve been staying ready,’’ he said. “I know I can help this team.’’
Rare bit of rain There was a five-minute rain delay before the game started. John Lackey, who spent eight seasons with the Angels, could never remember such a thing. “That’s the first time I’ve pitched in the rain here, I think,’’ Lackey said. “It was pretty crazy to warm up in the rain. But I’ve played in Boston for more than a year now, so I’ve gotten used to throwing in the rain.’’ . . . Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis was scratched from the lineup because of a sore left hamstring. . . . The Sox never trailed in the series and outscored the Angels, 20-5 . . . David Ortiz was 1 for 3 with a walk. He has reached base safely in all but three of the 20 games he has played and has an on-base percentage of .383. Ortiz had a .238 OPB last April . . . The Sox’ team ERA has fallen from 6.79 to 4.50 in the last nine games.