A grandiose win for Red Sox
Crawford’s slam big blow vs. Texas
For a few minutes yesterday afternoon, everything was as it was supposed to be for Carl Crawford.
He sent a grand slam sailing into the stands in right field at Fenway Park in the fourth inning and arrived at the plate to hand slaps and hugs from teammates Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Mike Aviles.
As the sold-out crowd cheered and some even chanted his name, Crawford walked back to the dugout smiling. His shot helped propel the Sox to a 12-7 victory against the Texas Rangers.
“That’s the guy we used to play against. He changes a game just like that,’’ Ortiz said, smacking his hands together for emphasis. “One swing, look what it did.’’
But even a grand slam can only change the statistics slightly at this point in the season. Crawford is hitting .252 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs. After stealing 47 bases last season, he has 17 this year. His .690 OPS is a whopping 161 points less than it was in 2010.
Whatever personal goals Crawford may have had when the Sox signed him to a lucrative seven-year deal last winter won’t be attained. That contract has sat on his shoulders like an anvil from the first day of spring training.
“I don’t look at the numbers,’’ Crawford said. “I guess when [the media] reminds me, then I know. But other that that, I just try to take each new day as it comes. That’s my approach.’’
Still, that one swing was a reminder of just how much impact Crawford can have on the Sox in the 24 games remaining in the regular season and particularly in the playoff games that will follow. World Series trophies have a way of outshining the dullest of statistics.
“How many times do you see it? A guy gets hot at the right time and just carries a team,’’ Dustin Pedroia said. “Carl can do that.’’
That’s the message Terry Francona has been preaching.
“It would be nice to see him string it together,’’ the manager said. “He can do that. That’s what we’ve been saying the whole way. If his batting average at the end of the season is a little short of what expectations were, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a force like he was today.’’
A day after losing 10-0 and being held to two hits, the Sox battered six Texas pitchers for 16 hits, six for extra bases. Rookie Josh Reddick had four hits, his career high.
Erik Bedard (5-9) was the beneficiary of the run support as he won his first game with the Sox in six attempts, going six innings and allowing three runs.
“It’s nice,’’ he said. “At the end of the day, it’s for the team. If we win the game and I pitch good and we play good, that’s all that counts.’’
With the Yankees beating Toronto, the Sox remain a half-game out of first place in the American League East. They will try to take the series this afternoon with John Lackey facing Matt Harrison.
Bedard had a tough start, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks in the first four innings. Two unassisted double plays by Gonzalez, one on a suicide squeeze to end the fourth inning, may have saved the lefthander from an early exit.
Trailing, 3-1, Bedard watched his teammates make his day much easier as they scored eight runs in the fourth inning.
Texas starter Colby Lewis (11-10) allowed a single by Reddick before Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove a home run into the stands in right field. It was his 14th of the season and his second against Texas, his former team.
With one out, Pedroia singled. With Gonzalez 6 for 7 against Lewis in his career, Texas manager Ron Washington called in Yoshinori Tateyama.
Good intentions led to bad results as, following a passed ball, Gonzalez was given a free pass. After a wild pitch with two outs, Ortiz was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Aviles hit for an ailing Jed Lowrie (tight left shoulder) and lined an RBI single to right field. Crawford then hammered a hanging changeup over the fence in right for his fourth career grand slam. That gave the Sox an 8-3 lead.
“You hit a grand slam it definitely helps your confidence,’’ Crawford said. “You’re hoping that’s something that can get you going.’’
The next reliever, Merkin Valdez, allowed consecutives singles by Reddick, Saltalamacchia, and Jacoby Ellsbury as the Sox added another run. Six of the eight runs scored with two outs,
The offense stayed hot in the sixth inning against rookie righthander Mark Hamburger.
Crawford doubled to center before Reddick singled. Ellsbury then walked to load the bases for Pedroia with two outs. As always, he swung as hard as he could at a fastball and lined it to straightaway center. The ball banged off the wall and three runs scored.
Those three runs helped offset the four runs allowed by Sox relievers Dan Wheeler and Franklin Morales later in the game.
“Everybody went home happy today,’’ Crawford said as he walked out of the clubhouse. “It feels good to be part of that.’’