As soon as the calendar was flipped from April to May, the page was turned on Carl Crawford's poor beginning. The most recent chapter in the outfielder's tale of redemption: a walk-off double that gave the Sox the win in what would otherwise have been a tremendously frustrating game.
We've seen games like this before this year--too often, really. The Red Sox were stinging the ball all night, sending line drives and loud flies left and right. But when the Twins fielders weren't either perfectly positioned or making spectacular plays (Ben Revere in particular had a remarkable grab in left), the Sox were pulling their old tricks and stranding the men who did reach. The one exception came in the fifth, when Adrian Gonzalez laced an opposite-field single to score Jason Varitek after the catcher's leadoff double.
Meanwhile, things seemed to be going better than expected for a Twins team that seemed completely overmatched by Josh Beckett. A few flair hits kept Beckett from extending his shutout past the seventh inning, as he was pulled with 103 pitches and an ERA that had dipped just below 2.00.
In came Alfredo Aceves, and, suddenly, events conspired. It's hard to really put it any other way. A fielding blunder by Aceves, interfering with Kevin Youkilis, allowed Denard Span to beat the throw to first with one out. Then came the second questionable balk call of the series, moving him to third. This wouldn't have been so terrible had
A) Joe West been calling a strike zone that did not seem to start at the belt for the Red Sox or,
Luckily, though, we don't need to reflect on these annoyances for too long right now, because this story has a happy ending, The teams traded scoreless ninth and tenth innings, marked by an two-impressive performance from Hideki Okajima and, on a more sour note, some more "aggressive baserunning" by Darnell McDonald which gifted the Twins the third out in the ninth inning. Then came the eleventh, and with it, two of the Red Sox' most dependable heroes of the year.
First came Jed Lowrie, who gave the Red Sox a one-out baserunner with a five-pitch walk. With Lowrie representing the winning run, Terry Francona elected to sacrifice his baserunning experience for a little more speed, sending Jose Iglesias out to pitch run. Then up came Carl Crawford. Facing a full count, Minnesota reliever Jim Hoey delivered a pitch nearly in the dirt to Crawford. With Iglesias taking off with the pitch, Crawford golfed at the low ball, and made big contact, sending it hard off of the Green Monster in left. Iglesias never slowed, and rounded third as the ball bounced to Ben Revere, who hit the relay man. The throw came home, Iglesias slid in just ahead, and the Red Sox won their sixth game in May.