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.

Sandoval raps out two hits, lifts average to .333, in Red Sox' 5-4 loss to Yankees

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Sandoval raps out two hits, lifts average to .333, in Red Sox' 5-4 loss to Yankees

With each passing day, Pablo Sandoval's winning over more and more skeptics.

The slimmed-down third baseman rapped out two hits, including a double, and drove in a run as he lifted his spring average to .333 in the Red Sox' 5-4 loss to a split squad of Yankees Tuesday at JetBlue Park. Sandoval went 2-for-3 overall -- his one out was a fly to the warning track -- and looked almost speedy as he raced home from second on an RBI single by Deven Marrero.

BOX SCORE: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4

It was a day for comeback players on both teams. Sam Travis, whose 2016 was cut short by a knee injury suffered at Triple-A Pawtucket, hit a solo home run for the Sox, who fell to 1-4 with the loss.  Greg Bird, who missed all of last year because of a shoulder injury, hit a pair of home runs and drove in three runs for the Yankees.

Marrero, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo, Matt Dominguez and Dan Butler each had one hit for the Red Sox. Starter Kyle Kendrick allowed three hits and two runs over three innings, retiring eight of the last nine batters he faced. Only one of the subsequent six relievers -- Robbie Ross Jr. -- figures to be in Boston in the regular season, and he pitched a hitless, scoreless fourth with one walk.

Vegas projects Red Sox, Indians for most wins in AL

Vegas projects Red Sox, Indians for most wins in AL

Wanna bet the Red Sox will have the most wins in the American League this season? 

Per Bovada, the Sox are projected for 92.5 wins in 2017, which is tied with the Indians for the highest total in the AL. Boston and Cleveland both sit behind the defending World Series champion Cubs (95.5) and Dodgers (93.5) in Bovada’s win projections. 

Here is the full list: 

Chicago Cubs: 95.5
Los Angeles Dodgers: 93.5
Boston Red Sox: 92.5
Cleveland Indians: 92.5
Washington Nationals: 90.5
Houston Astros: 89.5
New York Mets: 88.5
San Francisco Giants: 87.5
Seattle Mariners: 85.5
St. Louis Cardinals: 84.5
Texas Rangers: 84.5
Toronto Blue Jays: 84.5
Detroit Tigers: 82.5
New York Yankees: 82.5
Pittsburgh Pirates: 82.5
Baltimore Orioles: 80.5
Colorado Rockies: 80.5
Los Angeles Angels: 79.5
Arizona Diamondbacks: 77.5
Tampa Bay Rays: 77.5
Kansas City Royals: 76.5
Miami Marlins: 765
Minnesota Twins: 74.5
Atlanta Braves: 73.5
Oakland Athletics: 73.5
Philadelphia Phillies: 73.5
Cincinnati Reds: 70.5
Chicago White Sox: 69.5
Milwaukee Brewers: 69.5
San Diego Padres: 66.5