Carl Crawford has nearly 1,500 hits in his 10-year career, and several have come in situations that decided a game.
But few felt as cathartic as this.
Mired in the worst season-opening slump of his career and struggling to prove he's worth the seven-year, $142 million contract he received from the Red Sox in December, Crawford delivered a two-out single up the middle to score Jed Lowrie from third base and give the Red Sox a 3-2, walk-off victory Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.
"I felt real good about this one," said Crawford, who entered the game batting only .155. "It's been a while since I felt this good. I'm just glad it came as a game-winning hit."
Crawford's teammates were equally excited. Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez led the charge to congratulate Crawford as he rounded first base. Over the past few weeks, as Crawford has slumped, his teammates have rallied around him, offering their support and advice.
"He's the man," Gonzalez said. "I wouldn't want anybody else in left field. We know that, at the end of the year, he's going to be hitting .300. We keep telling him that."
Crawford notched two hits to raise his average to .168. He can't recall such a mystifying slump, especially to open a season. It has left him trying nearly everything to snap out of it, including taking swings in the batting cage long after games have ended.
Everyone, it seems, has offered hitting advice. Crawford has heard from friends, family, former coaches and total strangers. A few weeks ago, he said he has turned off his phone for long stretches to allow himself time to think about his predicament.
His clutch hit Sunday should help boost his confidence.
"It's been tough on me," Crawford said. "I can't sit here and act like it hasn't. You try to minimize that thinking and keep positive thoughts in your head. I figure that if I keep on keeping on, things would turn around."
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