Crawford celebrates birthday with three-hit game

Crawford celebrates birthday with three-hit game

Crawford celebrates birthday with three-hit game
BOSTON -- Carl Crawford celebrated his 31st birthday on Sunday by continuing his recent surge at the plate.

Crawford led the Red Sox with three hits, a steal and an RBI to help the home team avoid a sweep against the Twins in a 6-4 victory at Fenway Park. He's the only Boston player since at least 1918 to have three hits and a steal on his birthday.

"You like to do well on your birthday, you always hope for the best on your birthday," Crawford said.

The outfielder is batting .333 (12-for-36) with two doubles, one triple, three home runs and nine RBIs in his last nine games. He's starting to resemble the player who was a four-time All-Star with the Rays from 2002-10.

"It's funny, because that's what he's done for 10-plus years now," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "To me, it's not a surprise, I'm just glad he's doing it for us instead of somebody else. I said that last year and I'll say it again this year, he's somebody on your team you need to have. It's tough to find a guy with five tools like that, and he does."

What's most impressive about Crawford's recent hot streak is that he's carried it over through eight straight games.

When Crawford received a day off in New York on July 28, manager Bobby Valentine said it was part of a medically mandated program in which the outfielder would need to rest every few days.

Crawford is playing with a UCL injury in his left elbow that might eventually require surgery.

However, as Crawford continues to get more comfortable, it appears the enforced days off might not be needed.

Since returning from the disabled list on July 16, Crawford has been out of the lineup twice.

"Well, like we said, it was all part of a rehab process where they wanted to make sure that he was ready to go," Valentine said before the game. "Once he passed those tests ... we're playing it day by day, and being that it's his birthday, I'm thinking the least he should do is play today."

Valentine's decision to stick with Crawford has paid dividends.

"I'd like his birthday to be every day," said the manager after Sunday's win. "He was hitting with two strikes. He was hitting the ball hard, stealing bases. You saw it. Advanced the runner. Had a [darn] near perfect game. When he's like that, it can make a big difference."

Meanwhile, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup on Sunday -- one day after resting a minor leg injury. He went 1-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI.