Photo Courtesy: AP/Charles Krupa
For the third week in a row, Carl Crawford has lifted the Boston Red Sox past their opponents in the bottom of the 9th inning with a walk-off hit.
After struggling mightily out of the gate, Crawford is slowly turning things around in May. Crawford is only hitting .212 on the season, with an OBP of just .249. But consider if you were in the second month of a 7-year, $142 million contract - you don't think that price tag on your forehead might make things a little bit tougher?
With his clutch performances, a certain weight has been lifted off of his shoulders, but the fans in Boston need more. Crawford will not make it the entire season off of the benefit of the doubt he is getting right now.
As for Thursday's game between the Detroit Tigers and the Red Sox, there may not be a better pitching match-up than that of Justin Verlander and Josh Beckett. Both teams scraped across a run in the second inning with the Sox taking a 2-1 lead after 4, but other than that, Verlander and Beckett roared through this game that was on pace to be completed in just two and a half hours.
That all came unraveled in the top of the 8th inning. Daniel Bard came in looking for the hold, but instead gave up back-to-back shots to Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera. Thanks to Big Papi David Ortiz's solo blast a half inning earlier, the game was knotted up at 3 apiece.
To the bottom of the 9th we go. Kevin Youkilis drew a leadoff walk, and Jose Iglesias came in to pinch-run. Big Papi hit a single to right-center, allowing Iglesias to move to third. With runners on the corners, JD Drew earned himself an intentional walk after his bomb in the 4th inning. Bases full of Sox, Jed Lowire had an impressive at-bat that ended in a bloop single and a force-out at home as Iglesias was forced to hold in case the ball was caught.
Once Ortiz was at third, Darnell McDonald was called upon to pinch run. Austin Jackson, playing shallow to avoid the cheap base hit, would not have had a chance on Crawford's frozen rope to deep center even if he were playing at normal depth. McDonald came across, and the Sox are now proud owners of a 6-game winning streak.
"You always want to get a hit in those situations," Crawford said. "You want to win the game - you don't want to go to extra innings. You just try to tell yourself to focus a little harder and hope for the best."
Crawford strategy has paid off for him once a week since the end of April. May 1st, May 9th and May 19th have all been walk-off victories thanks to Crawford.
Tonight's game is between the Sox and the visiting National League Central Division Chicago Cubs. This will be the Cubs first visit to Fenway Park since Game 6 of the 1918 World Series 93 years ago.
Doug Davis (0-1, 1.80 ERA) vs Jon Lester (5-1, 3.28 ERA)