|Carl Crawford ‘knows it looks bad now’ but still confident of playoffs||09.21.11 at 11:57 pm ET|
To Carl Crawford, Wednesday would’ve been the perfect game to mark his return to prominence in Red Sox nation and calm the fears of those who have lost faith that the team will realize its October dreams.
He was signed to a seven-year, $142 million contract last winter to do exactly what he did on Wednesday night – produce big hits in big situations in the biggest of games in Boston.
He certainly fit the bill Wednesday when he tripled leading off the third and scored to tie the game, 1-1. He doubled home two runs in the next inning to snap a 1-1 tie and he added a single as the Red Sox built a 4-1 lead.
All of those thoughts and doubts about the timing of his stiff neck on Monday, the pressure getting to him and his polite declining to talk to the media went by the wayside as it appeared the Red Sox were on their way to a crucial win.
“For me, right now anything I do positive is big for me so I’m just trying to gain some confidence going into the postseason and hopefully I can just get better with every game,” said Crawford, who despite a .348 average on the homestand, came in trying to quell those who wondered about his ability to handle the stress of Boston. “Hopefully, we’ll go to the playoffs and it’ll carry over and that’s what you’d like to think, we’ll get hot at the right time.
“Best way I know to get back on track is start off by getting a win in some kind of way, just find a way to get the first win and try to build on it. Usually, winning gives guys the confidence you need and you go from there.”
But then the Red Sox blew the 4-1 lead and lost 6-4 and the conversation became less about the stress on Crawford and more about the pressure that seems to be crushing the Red Sox right now.
“There’s been times we’ve been able to do good things but just haven’t been able to put it all together,” he said. “We just can’t really explain what’s going on. We’re having a little breakdown but we still have a few games left. We can still get in. We just have to finish strong but it’s definitely confusing why we’re playing this way.”
Crawford was one of several key players on a Rays team that made the World Series in 2008 and won the AL East in 2010. He’s been through the pennant race the last three years but this year in Boston – understandably – feels much different.
“Not quite like this,” Crawford said when asked to compare. “Normally, with Tampa, you’re on a team that wasn’t expected to get the playoffs and we got there. This team is expected to get there and we’re kind of faltering at the end a little bit so, it makes a lot of people nervous. I’ve never been in this situation before.
“I’m still very confident this team will find a way to get to the playoffs. I know it looks bad now but at some point I think we’ll get it together and find a way.”
In a very ironic twist, it was Crawford giving the pep talk after Wednesday’s latest Sox meltdown.
“It just felt good to get the lead, get an important hit, put us ahead and hopefully, we could score more runs,” Crawford said of contributing to the 4-1 lead. “It’s a little surprising. We definitely didn’t expect to see this but we just have to find a way. You want to stay positive and keep doing things you know how to do and turn the page when something bad like this happens tonight.”
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