Red Sox

‘Kind of something you dream about’: Kutter Crawford leads Red Sox over Rays after call-up, plus 4 takeaways

Crawford threw 5.1 innings in relief to lead the Red Sox to the win.

Red Sox Rays
Boston Red Sox pitcher Kutter Crawford is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after leaving during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays. AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Kutter Crawford’s last outing prior to Monday’s game against the Rays was in Rochester on June 28, when he helped the Worcester Red Sox pick up a win with an eight-strikeout, one-walk performance.

On Monday, the 26-year-old — who is the No. 24 prospect in the Red Sox system — walked onto the field at Fenway Park in the third inning and walked off in the eighth to a standing ovation from Red Sox fans after a nearly flawless 5.1 innings. Crawford picked up his second win of the season and — once again — struck out eight while walking one. The Red Sox claimed a 4-0 victory over their division rivals.

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“It’s kind of something you dream about, walking off the field and getting a standing ovation from 35,000-plus people, especially at Fenway,” Crawford told reporters after the game. “So it was pretty special.”

Crawford started the season with the big-league team, but he has bounced back and forth between Boston and Worcester twice. The Red Sox brought him back up on Monday, optioning Connor Seabold to Worcester to make room for Crawford.

Crawford delivered — Trevor Story’s fourth-inning solo homer would have been enough to deliver the win, although the Red Sox manufactured another run in the fifth and two more in the eighth.

“He makes all his pitches,” Alex Cora said after the game. “It was impressive. Good breaking ball, good cutter, good changeup. The fastball played. He was in control until the last hitter. It was really good to see.”

Cora lauded the pitching department’s player development for bringing along a number of promising prospects and noted that Crawford has a 75-percent strike rate, which helps him stay ahead of hitters.

Crawford threw five pitches, leaning heavily on his cutter, fastball, and curve, per Baseball Savant. According to the team, he became just the second Red Sox pitcher to throw more than five relief innings and record eight or more strikeouts.

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“Last couple outings, I started to figure something out mechanically that has helped with that,” Crawford said. “But yeah, just commanding the baseball, all five pitches in the zone is one of my keys to success.”

Crawford would have been a candidate to pitch Wednesday when the Red Sox need a spot starter (it will not, according to Cora, be Chris Sale). That slot could go to top pitching prospect Brayan Bello after Crawford’s brilliance on Monday.

“It was his afternoon,” Cora said.

More takeaways

2. Story’s solo shot in the fourth inning carried just far enough in Fenway to clear the right-center field wall at 395 feet and an exit velocity of 104.9 miles per hour.


“Yesterday he hit the ball the other way, the fly ball in Wrigley,” Cora said, referencing a ninth-inning fly-out to right center that just missed in the Red Sox’s 4-2 win over the Cubs. “That’s a good sign, and then he didn’t miss that one. It was a big one for us.”

Cora noted that Story — and many others — benefit when they can hit to right.

“That’s something that playing with the big boys here back in the day, with Manny [Ramirez], he always said that the wall was his friend,” Cora said. “You stay hard right center, on fastballs, if they hang one, you’re going to hit it out of the ball park.”

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3. The Red Sox benefitted from a pitching error for the second consecutive day — after scoring the winning runs when Rowan Wick skied a throw to first in the 11th, Josh Fleming allowed an insurance run to score in the eighth. Alex Verdugo hit a dribbler back to the mound with the bases loaded but Fleming didn’t get his glove down far enough, and the ball bounced past him. Rafael Devers scored as a result.

4. After Monday, the Red Sox have won five in a row at home and are 17-7 in their last 24 at Fenway Park.

5. The Red Sox shook off a late night in Chicago on Sunday — they played 11 innings against the Cubs, then flew back to Boston to start an important home stand against the Rays. The win pushed them two games ahead of the Rays and one ahead of the Blue Jays in the AL East. The Yankees didn’t play, but hold a 13-game lead.

The Red Sox take on the Rays at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday before starting four-game series at home against the Yankees.

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