Crawford leads way in Sox' 20-hit day

May, 25, 2011
CLEVELAND -- When the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal last Dec. 8, they were expecting big things. Crawford came into Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians batting .212, which isn’t what they had in mind.

Slowly but surely, though, Crawford is starting to round into form. He went 4-for-4 on Wednesday in the Red Sox’s 14-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.

[+] EnlargeCarl Crawford
AP Photo/Mark DuncanCarl Crawford raised his average to .229 Wednesday with four hits, including a solo home run.
The lefty came close to batting for the cycle, with a single, two doubles and a home run. He scored three runs and had two RBIs on the day.

“I thought about [a cycle] in my last at-bat, not early on in the game,” Crawford said.

“It feels nice to contribute,” he added.

Admittedly it’s been a difficult start for the four-time American League All-Star, who has a .294 lifetime batting average.

“I feel a little bit better [at the plate],” he said. “I don’t like to dissect it too much because that’s what got me in trouble early on, trying to give every little detail about my swing.”

The Sox have a potent offensive attack with table setters Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and mashers Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. If (when?) Crawford straightens himself out, things will only get better.

“Obviously, he cares so much,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I don't know if it's pats on the back as much as it is trying to be consistent. Sometimes you pat them too much they get scared.

“We all believe in him and I know he believes in himself. It's nice to see him swing the bat like he did, that's for sure."

Crawford, who raised his batting average to .229, said that being dropped to the lower part of the batting order didn't necessarily ease the pressure.

“Wherever they put me, that’s where I’ll bat,” he said. “I’ve been playing with pressure my whole career. I can’t really say it helped me.”

Pedroia, Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also homered in the Red Sox’s 20-hit assault. For Saltalamacchia, it was his fourth home run in six games.

Pedroia missed Tuesday’s game after tweaking his left foot while base running Monday night -- the same foot that was surgically repaired last season. But any concerns were quickly dashed when he smashed a ball over the wall in left-center field.

“It felt better today,” he said of his foot. “It was a little sore yesterday.

Like Crawford, Pedroia has been struggling at the plate, so his homer was a much-needed boost.

“I’m not a home-run hitter,” he said. “I hit a few by accident. I feel like I’m getting better.

Pedroia was 2-for-6 on the day to raise his average to .249.

“Over a 162-game schedule, some of those are going to fall,” he said. “It’s a long year.

“I go through something like this every year.”

The Red Sox got nine hits and seven runs in the first inning off Indians starter Mitch Talbot (1-1, 5.87), who was making his first start since April 11 because of a right elbow strain. Judging by the way he pitched, he should have stayed on the disabled list.

“It was a snowball effect,” said Drew Sutton, who played third base for the Sox in place of Kevin Youkilis, who has a sore hand from a diving play on Tuesday night. “Twelve runs and 20 hits later, it was a good day. Getting hits are fun.”

Left-hander Jon Lester (7-1, 3.36) was outstanding, as were all three Red Sox starters in the series. He allowed just three hits in six scoreless innings, and struck out seven.

It’s never a bad thing to have a 7-0 lead before making a pitch.

“Obviously, it’s good,” Lester said. “It takes a lot of pressure off me and the defense. You don’t have to be perfect.

“I was executing and keeping the ball down. Every game is important for me to go out there and do well."



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