Commentary

Sabathia helps Crawford find his groove

Updated: August 6, 2011, 9:53 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox left-handed hitting left fielder Carl Crawford has enjoyed success in his career against Yankees left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia, and that streak continued during Boston's 10-4 victory over New York on Saturday at Fenway Park.

Crawford had three hits against Sabathia and finished the day 4-for-4 with three runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. His success couldn't have come at a better time, as he's been struggling to stay consistent at the plate since returning from the disabled list (hamstring injury) on July 18.

What's more impressive about Crawford's performance against Sabathia is the fact all three hits were to the opposite field.

"Any day you can get three hits off a pitcher like Sabathia you've got to be proud of yourself," Crawford said. "It felt good to be consistent off a lefty for a day."

It's the first time in nearly a season that Crawford has registered three hits off a left-hander, and his four hits tied a season high. He's also recorded a hit in six consecutive at-bats.

Crawford entered Saturday's game with a .245 average and only seven homers and 37 RBIs, which is well below his career norm. He struggled to make the transition to Boston at the start of the season, and just when he started to come around -- late June -- was when he suffered the hamstring injury.

[+] EnlargeCarl Crawford
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireCarl Crawford slides into second base after one of his four hits against the Yankees on Saturday.

Even though his numbers may not be what he's accustomed to seeing, if he can turn it on the last 1½ months of the season, the Red Sox will be that much better.

"If he wants to get hot, kind of like what [Jacoby Ellsbury] is doing up at the beginning of the order, we're a whole different team," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It gives us a different look."

Francona said he knows Crawford will finish the season strong, and Crawford's teammates agree.

"Everybody knows he's better than that. I mean, everybody knows that at one point he's going to do what he normally does," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "He's a great player and it's not a secret. Everybody goes through tough times and for you to bounce back, all you've got to do is make sure everybody's got your back and we've got his back.

"I know at one point he's going to come out and do what we know he can do. He's a great player."

Great players listen and learn, and that's exactly what Crawford has been doing of late. He's been spending extra time in the batting cage, especially working on hitting the slider. In fact, prior to the bottom of the sixth inning during Friday's game against the Yankees, Ortiz and Crawford stood on deck and it was clear Ortiz was discussing hitting with his teammate. The advice worked, because Crawford began his current hit streak with a double off the center-field wall.

"He loves listening," Ortiz explained. "He wants to pull the best out of everyone. Any time you give him ideas he thinks about it and he puts it in play.

"Man, he hit some pitches today against a guy who can give you a hard time. Having him coming out and continuing what he did today will be huge," Ortiz added.

Crawford is hoping to stay consistent because he realizes his importance to this lineup.

"You try to take everything positive that happens and hopefully carry that into the next day," Crawford said. "Hopefully it's the start of something."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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