Crawford's swing showing improvement on trip

Crawford's swing showing improvement on trip

Crawford's swing showing improvement on trip
ARLINGTON -- Carl Crawford is finally putting his foot down and asserting himself during what has been a difficult first season with the Red Sox. As in, literally putting his foot down.

The left fielder, with a batting stance that is unusually open, has been mechanically out of sync for much of the season.

But on this road trip, he has been planting his front foot down in shorter order, and it is resulting in some success. Take Wednesday night for example, when Crawford went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and equaled a career-high with five RBIs in the Red Sox's 13-2 drubbing of the Rangers.

"I've been focusing a little more, zoning in on the pitch and really just trying to swing at good pitches," said Crawford. "I got into a habit of swinging at bad pitches. I'm just trying to get a pitch I can hit."

The two-run rocket Crawford hit to dead center field in the eighth might have been the hardest ball he's hit all season.

"Yeah, that ball he hit to center field, that's a line drive homer," said manager Terry Francona. "He got his foot down on time. He got loaded. You can see what he does. That's exciting."

Nothing about this season has been easy for Crawford. When he was finally getting hot for the first time, he injured his left hamstring and missed three weeks.

Since his return July 18, there have been glimpses of hot streaks, but then a return to a funk.

Perhaps things are finally starting to click for Crawford, who is hitting .255 with nine homers, 46 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

The one thing that has eased the burden for Crawford is that he plays for one of the best teams in baseball. The Red Sox, with a record of 79-50, are in good position to qualify for the postseason.

"If we were losing, I'm pretty sure it'd be harder. It definitely doesn't hurt that the team's in first place," Crawford said. "I'm just trying to finish the season out strong pretty much. Just trying to do something. I'll still be disappointed in my personal performance, but if we win a World Series, I won't feel bad about that."

The Red Sox's chances of bringing home a third World Series trophy in the last eight seasons increase greatly if Crawford plays anything like he did for the Rays.

"Even when he doesn't steal, they have to pay attention to him," said Francona. "Maybe he earns somebody a fastball he wouldn't normally get. Yeah, it changes the game a lot."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.