Crawford getting into the swing of things in Boston

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Crawford getting into the swing of things in Boston

BOSTON It was always supposed to be this easy for Carl Crawford.

After a year of struggling with his transition to Boston and another half-season lost to injury, the energetic left fielder is finally starting to look like the guy that the Red Sox lured away with free agency big bucks.

In his first nine games off the disabled list Crawford had no extra base hits and a single RBI while shaking off the rust, but the Sox outfielder has busted out with a .333 batting average, six extra base hits and 9 RBI in his last nine games. Crawford sprayed three hits out of his comfortable No. 2 hole in Sunday afternoons 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, and showed what he can do in all facets of the game.

He made a nice jumping catch at the base of the Green Monster early in the game, put pressure on the Minnesota defense with his trademark base-running speed and set the table for a Sox offense that was functional for at least one day.

Hes a game-changer, said admiring teammate Adrian Gonzalez, who smashed a two-run homer in the victory. Hes making things happen and hes incredible when he and Jacoby get on base. Today it was Carls turn. With those two guys at the top of the lineup they can make a big difference.

Oh, and it was his 31st birthday as well.

Id like his birthday to be every day, said Bobby Valentine. Hes hitting with two strikes, hes hitting the ball hard, stealing bases, and advancing runners. He had damn-near a perfect game.

When hes like that he can make a big difference for us.

Interestingly enough Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan attributed Crawfords recent success to refined plate discipline. Anybody watching the speedy Sox outfielder over the last season-and-a-half knows how bad Crawford can look when hes swinging wildly at pitches out of his happy hitting zone.

Overall hes still hitting at a .279 clip in his first 18 games back this season, but hes simply done a better job of recognizing his pitches and hammering them with impunity.

Hes made some mechanical adjustments to free him up a little bit, but his pitch selection has been very good. When he gets a pitch to hit hes barreling it up, said Magadan. A lot of it is confidence. He hit a little bump for maybe 15 at bats after coming back, but he didnt throw everything out the window that hed been working on for adjustments.

The key for him is getting good pitches to hit. When he does that he maximizes his chances of stinging the ball.

His pitches per plate appearance have actually dropped from a career-high 3.89 last year to a 3.63 mark thats more in line with his career averages. So perhaps Crawford has stopped forcing himself to be an overly patient hitter according to the Sox philosophies, and is instead relying on the eye, quick wrists and athletic ability that have allowed him to be the only modern Major Leaguer to record 200 doubles, 100 triples, 100 home runs and 400 stolen bases before his 31st birthday.

I feel good for him. I know that he wants to prove that last year was an aberration, which we all think it was, said Magadan. He was anxious to start the year, but unfortunately he wasnt able to because of injuries. But hes going to make the most of the time hes got now.

Now that Crawford is seemingly healthy enough to play every day and finally looking like the same player he was in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform, everybody is getting a chance to see what the Sox lineup looks like with another impactful game-changer at the top of it.

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.