Haggerty: Crawford finally coming around

191542.jpg

Haggerty: Crawford finally coming around

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON The biggest word thrown around Carl Crawford during his fitful first few weeks with the Red Sox was comfortable".

As in Crawford might not be comfortable in the No. 3 hole in the Sox lineup, and the left fielder might not be comfortable with the bright lights and big city vibe of Fenway Park after flourishing in Major League Baseballs version of a hideout in Tampa Bay.

Certainly there were questions about whether Crawford would ever be comfortable attempting to justify a 140 million contract inked with the Sox, and going about the virtually impossible task of proving hes a 20 million a year player to an entire city full of baseball-crazed people.

Well it appears the word might be getting put to bed now that the 29-year-old Crawford is really getting comfortable in Red Stockings after a rocky first few steps to his Sox career. Crawford has been white-hot since jumping back into the Boston lineup and looks like hes only going to throttle up the speed.

Since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury on July 18, Crawford is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with four runs scored, four RBI, two walks and a pair of stolen bases in six games during the month of July.

Not bad for a guy that was down for nearly a month with an injury.

Youve got to give him credit because he worked so hard, said Sox manager Terry Francona. We werent really worried about his legs. He did so much hitting and hes got himself comfortable really quick. Thats been so helpful for us.

In April he was struggling. Everything was so late and so quick. Now hes getting into the hitting position so much easier and theres balance. Hes seeing the ball and swinging at strikes to all fields. Hes looking like Crawford.

Crawford was instrumental in Sunday afternoons 12-8 bashing of the Seattle Mariners while going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and a big two-run double that helped break things open for the Sox. It was probably the exact kind of game the former Tampa Bay All-Star envisioned in his head when leaving the small market Rays for the big time in Boston.

Guys are smiling and excited because were scoring runs and winning ballgames, said Crawford. Days like this are exactly what I signed up for.

Best of all the lefty-swinging Crawford was going opposite field with power and production a recipe for hitting success that every left-hander must follow during their at bats at Fenway Park.

The outside corner is where the pitchers are at most of the time, said Crawford. Its rare for them to go to the inside. You want to have your opposite field stroke down because you might only get one or two pitches to hit. If you hit it right here at Fenway then its going to be an automatic base hit, so it does ease your mind that you can go left and something good is going to happen.

While Crawford looked like he was climbing out of the doldrums right before he popped his hamstring on June 17, the athletic outfielder looks exactly like the guy the Sox envisioned when they signed him to a seven-year, 142 million deal during the Winter Meetings. Its a credit to the player that he hit the ground running with Boston after undergoing a rehab stint in Pawtucket, and it makes the Sox offense look that much more lethal when Crawford is lurking in the No. 6 hole behind the rest of the Yawkey Way Murderers Row.

Health-wise I feel great, my swing feels better and Im starting to get into a little bit of a groove, said Crawford. Hopefully Ill just keep getting better every time I go out there for every game.

Im just trying to get ready and hit the ball. Just trying not to over-swing and hit the ball where it was pitched. I just focused and adjust to the six-hole a little bit. I had some to adjust a little and watch, and see what was going on with guys hitting sixth. Youve got to be a little patient at the plate.

On the season the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is up to a .254 batting average with six homers and 35 RBI after finishing April with a pathetic .155 batting average a sign that all those possibly waiting for the BostonCrawford marriage to flop are going to have wait for an awfully long time.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Porcello loses 10th game as Red Sox fall to Twins, 4-1

Porcello loses 10th game as Red Sox fall to Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- Twins rookie lefty Adalberto Mejia is feeling more comfortable each time he takes the mound.

Mejia pitched 5 2/3 innings in his second straight scoreless start, Max Kepler hit a two-run homer and Minnesota rebounded from two consecutive losses against Boston to beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night.

"He did a nice job," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about Mejia. "He had to kind of battle. It's kind of becoming a little bit of his MO to burn through pitches, but similarly to his last start, he kept walking off the field with zeros."

Kepler also had an RBI single, and Miguel Sano added an RBI double to help the Twins improve to 24-11 on the road.

Mejia (3-3) allowed five hits, struck out three and walked one in his 11th career start. On Friday night at Cleveland, he held the Indians to two hits over five innings in a victory.

"I feel calmer every time I'm out there," he said through a translator. "I think that's why I did better."

Brandon Kintzler got the final three outs for his 21st save.

Boston starter Rick Porcello (4-10) gave up four runs on six hits in six innings, striking out six and walking two. It was his 14th straight start going at least six innings, the AL's longest active streak.

"It's not like they're beating the cover off the ball," Porcello said. "It's just a couple things here and there that I've got to clean up. I'm not making excuses for myself. I definitely hold myself accountable for the loss tonight."

Red Sox manager John Farrell was back in the dugout after serving a one-game suspension Tuesday for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an argument Saturday.

The Red Sox stranded 11 baserunners, and at least one in every inning. Farrell thought his team may have been pressing a bit.

"I thought there were times we might have expanded the strike zone a little bit, trying to make something happen," he said.

With Minnesota leading 2-0 in the sixth, Kepler lined his homer off the back of Boston's bullpen.

In the first, the Twins scored a pair of two-out runs when Sano hit his RBI double down the third-base line and scored on Kepler's broken-bat single.

Xander Bogaerts drove in Boston's run with a bases-loaded grounder in the seventh.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: LHP Glen Perkins resumed throwing Tuesday after a setback last week following offseason shoulder surgery. Molitor said the club is still formulating a plan for him. He's been sidelined all season and pitched in just two games last year.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez missed his third straight game after getting hit by a pitch on the left knee Sunday. "He'll go through a full workday today," Farrell said. "He's feeling improved."

MATCHES OWN RECORD

Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia played his 98th consecutive error-less game, matching the best mark in club history he set for a second baseman from 2009-10.

LOOKS FAMILIAR

This season has started like 2015 for Porcello, the AL's reigning Cy Young Award winner.

Two years ago when he struggled badly, the righty lost nine of his initial 13 decisions and finished 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA.

ROSTER MOVE

Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes was activated from the 10-day disabled list and LHP Craig Breslow was put on with rib cage soreness.

Hughes had been on the DL since complaining of a "dead feeling" in his pitching shoulder on May 21. He allowed one run in three innings during three rehabilitation appearances in Triple-A.

Molitor plans to use him out of the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.23 ERA) looks to continue his success in Fenway Park in the series finale Thursday. He's allowed only one run over 15 innings in two career starts.

Red Sox: LHP David Price (2-2, 4.76) has won his last five decisions against Minnesota, posting a 1.84 ERA.