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Red Sox gang up for a Texas thrashing

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 25, 2011 12:28 AM

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ARLINGTON, Texas — On most nights, finding an angle to write about is pretty easy. Usually there's one particular play, or player, who makes the biggest difference in the game and you focus on that.

But for the Red Sox, it has been a team-wide effort these last two nights in Texas.

Each starter has had at least one hit the last two games. In tonight's 13-2 beatdown of the Rangers you could point to Carl Crawford driving in five runs, David Ortiz returning to the lineup with two hits, Josh Beckett shutting down a potent lineup, or Jacoby Ellsbury having another night when he showed his power, speed, and range.

And don't forget Adrian Gonzalez, who homered for the third time in two games. Or Dustin Pedroia, who had two hits and two more RBIs. Franklin Morales also blew smoke in the seventh inning, touching 97.

“So,” Beckett said with a smile that bespoke satisfaction, “I guess that means we can beat Texas.”

Given their performance to date, the excellence of Beckett, Ellsbury, Gonzalez, Ortiz, and Pedroia is hardly major news. But Crawford is worth looking a little deeper at.

He had a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning and a two-run homer to straightaway center in the seventh inning off reliever Darren O’Day. It was perhaps the hardest ball he has hit all season. The five RBIs matched his career high.

“You can see what he does. That’s exciting,” Terry Francona said.

Crawford is 9 for 26 on the road trip, hitting safely in all seven games, with two home runs and eight RBIs. More than any mechanical adjustment, he is trying simply to swing at better pitches.

“I’ve been focusing on that a little bit more. Zoning in on a pitch,” said Crawford, who is hitting .255. “Really just swing at good pitches. I think I got in a habit of swinging at bad pitches.”

Crawford also has made some changes in his mechanics, getting his front foot down more quickly, which helps get his hands in position to take a level swing.

“When it gets down, and that’s a lot easier said than done, you can see what happens,” Francona said. “He’s on time as opposed to maybe being late and having that emergency swing.”

Even with the adjustments, Crawford’s overanalyzed first season with the Red Sox is not going to end with glittering statistics. But the team’s success has eased that disappointment.

“It definitely makes the transition a little easier to deal with,” he said. “If we were losing, I’m pretty sure that it would be harder. Just trying to finish this season out strong. Try to do something.”

If the Sox play deep into October and he is a valuable contributor, how Crawford hit over the summer will be forgiven, at least by reasonable fans.

“I’ll still be disappointed with my personal performance,” he said. “But if we win a World Series, who’s going to feel bad about that?”

QUOTES OF THE NIGHT

• Beckett on that line drive he caught in the fifth inning: “I never saw it. I really didn’t. That ball caught me, I didn’t catch it.”

• Ortiz on his first-to-home dash in the first inning that resulted in his scoring when Mike Napoli dropped the ball: “He felt the earthquake coming in."

INJURY REPORT

• Ortiz said his right foot felt just fine. It seems like he's good to go now. It'll be interesting to see what that means for Ryan Lavarnway.

OTHER STUFF

• Dustin Pedroia sat the last three innings just to get a little rest. He's fine.

Jonathan Papelbon has thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings.

• Gonzalez now has 99 RBIs.

• The 11-run margin of defeat matched the worst of the season for Texas.

• The Sox are 41-26 on the road with 14 to play. They won 43 on the road last year.

That's it from here. Final game of the series tomorrow. Come back for more.

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