Haggerty: Crawford finally coming around

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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.

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.