BOSTON, MA - JUNE 03: Carl Crawford #13 of the Boston Red Sox hits a 2 RBI single in the seventh inning as Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Oakland Athletics defends on June 3, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Carl Crawford did not kill the ball like he did in the second inning for a flyball that was caught practically over the bullpen wall. He did not have a terrific at bat, taking some ugly looking jumps back from what were clearly strikes on the inside half of the plate.
What he did do was put the good part of the bat on the ball, and while the bat shattered on impact, with the greater part flying behind him, he had put it exactly where every hitter wants to put it with the bases loaded--right back up the middle, and onto the grass, even if it was just barely past second base.
This was the scene of the clutch seventh-inning single from Carl Crawford who, once again, provided a game-winner with Boston's back against the wall, facing a 5-6 deficit. It wasn't a walkoff, but it gave the Red Sox the lead, and it was one they would not relinquish.
The comeback was needed because Clay Buchholz had not had the best go of things in his first June start. Despite some entirely acceptable peripherals, Buchholz struggled early, giving up four runs in the first thanks in part to some defensive difficulties that allowed three ground ball singles (including a very slow one up the middle that made Jed Lowrie look foolish diving and missing by a good bit).
To be sure, Clay held some responsibility, getting behind batters early and giving up all-too-hittable pitches when he was ahead. Certainly they were his mistakes which resulted in Kevin Kouzmanoff moving from first to third in the fourth inning on an errant pickoff attempt and a wild pitch, eventually resulting in a fifth run coming in in the fourth, and the leadoff double to Josh Willingham which led to a sixth run in the fifth on another ground ball hit that chased Clay from the game was largely his fault. But he was perhaps not so bad as the five earned in 4.2 innings suggests.
Meanwhile, the middle-of-the-order worked to keep the Sox in the game. In the bottom of the first, after Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a bloop single and pulled his usual tricks to reach third, it was Adrian Gonzalez grounding out to bring him home, and then Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz adding another run with a double and a single respectively to cut the A's lead to 4-2.
Some defensive miscues let the Sox score again in the second on a sacrifice fly from Ellsbury, but then it was right back to the big names, as Kevin Youkilis walked, David Ortiz doubled him home, and then scored himself on a Jed Lowrie single to give the Sox their first lead of the game just a few frames after going down 4-0 in the top of the first.
With the A's taking the lead again off Buchholz, though, it was up to the big bats to again get to work in the seventh to set Carl Crawford up for his heroics. This time, only one man needed to swing, though, as Adrian Gonzalez' wall ball double was followed up with a hit by pitch for Kevin Youkilis and a walk for David Ortiz.
Jed Lowrie flew out, up came Crawfrod, and, well, you know the tale. From there, only a strong couple of innings from Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon separated them from their first win in far too long.
But that's OK, because a four-game losing streak, while bad, isn't out of the ordinary. It happens all the time to good teams and bad. Five or six games, like the one that started the season, are a bit more concerning, but four games after the long streak of games the Sox had is just something that will happen. Now they've got Josh Beckett up aiming to make it two wins in a row tomorrow.