Carl Crawford was a heck of a football player at Jefferson Davis High in Houston, so good that Nebraska offered him a scholarship.
Crawford choose baseball, a much safer sport to play. But he may need to dig up his old pads if the walk-off hits keep coming.
For the second time in nine days, Crawford delivered for the Red Sox with a double high off the wall in left center to score Jose Iglesias from first base with the winning run in a 2-1 game against the Twins.
Kevin Youkilis chased down Crawford and tackled him with a hit worthy of Jerod Mayo.
“Youk got me pretty good and then all the rest of them got me,” Crawford said. “I just tried not to get hurt in a scuffle like that.”
Crawford hit .155 in April. But he is 13 of 36 (.361) in May and 18 of 59 (.305) over his last 15 games with seven extra-base hits. Day-by-day, he is becoming that star player the Sox knew they signed in December.
“Where I came from I didn’t have a clue, now I have one. It’s like night and day a little bit,” Crawford said. “It’s still a process and hopefully I can continue to get better over time.”
The game-winner tonight was a great example of how far Crawford has come this season. An aggressive hitter, Crawford worked the count full before taking a swing at a low fastball from Jim Hoey. He drove the ball through a stiff wind that was blowing in. It takes a strong man to go the other way with a pitch like that in those conditions.
As to other stuff:
• Jose Iglesias scored the winning run after pinch running for Jed Lowrie. The rookie, on base for the first time at Fenway, paused a second watching the flight of Crawford’s ball before taking off running.
“I think as Iggy is here more, it’ll probably be a little easier to read that ball off the wall. He probably didn’t get out as far as he could of,” Terry Francona said. “But he was probably running as fast as he’ll ever run.”
Tell you what, having a 21-year-old kid around is good for this team. Iglesias will bring some vitality and energy as long as he’s here.
After he spoke to reporters and dressed, Iglesias carried three large plastic bags of beer out to the bus for his teammates. He may be a top prospect and the shortstop of the future, but tradition demands that the new kid in town carries the brews.
• Hideki Okajima allowed two hits and two walks in two innings and threw a career-high 43 pitches. But he didn’t give up a run and got the win. “I felt good today,” Okajima said through an interpreter. “I was just making sure that I hit the corners and made sure they didn’t hit a home run off of me. I think I did a good job.”
• Josh Beckett’s last six starts: 40.1 innings, 22 hits, 7 earned runs. Reports of his demise were premature. Beckett has a 1.99 ERA on the season. His next start will probably be against the Yankees this weekend. That will be a great test of how he’s doing.
• Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save. But he threw a low splitter that broke the bat of Jason Kubel. That the ball parachuted into center field wasn’t his fault. You’d take that same pitch and same location every time.
• This streak business is getting serious for Jacoby Ellsbury. That’s 18 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors and second-longest in the AL this season to Alex Gordon, who had a 19-gamer for the Royals.
In the big scheme of things, hitting streaks don’t mean much. That Ellsbury is hitting .291 with a .345 OBP is what matters.
• The Sox are 3.5 games out of first. In the bunched-together AL East, going worst to first can take about a week. The Sox are 15-8 in their last 23 games.
The Sox are on the road tomorrow. Check back then for reports from Toronto.