The Red Sox are reeling, The Rays are in striking distance, Daniel Bard is struggling, the rotation is fading, Adrian Gonzalez is injured, so is Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz says it’s time to panic, Theo Epstein is saying get it done…
And this is all before I talk about how bad Carl Crawford has been.
To say that Crawford has had a down year is an understatement. In a hitter’s park in a hitter’s division Crawford is batting near .250 with only 11 home runs. He’s having his worst statistical year as a professional and this is with Youk, Gonzo, Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia having fantastic seasons hitting in front him.
Maybe it’s the pressure of playing in front of a packed house every night that’s getting to him. Maybe it’s the fact that every game since April has been important. Maybe he’s not fitting in because he’s not the right fit. Whatever it is, Crawford looks nothing like a guy that the Red Sox paid $142 million to get from Tampa Bay (granted they inflated that number to prevent the Yankees from getting him but still, with that huge of a deal you have to perform).
Starting tonight the Red Sox have a do or die series with the Rays at Fenway Park that will determine what happens the rest of the way in the AL Wildcard race. They currently sit 4 games up after leading the race by as much as 7.5 at the end of August. The Rays pitching is beyond lights out and they shut down Boston’s big bats last weekend in Tampa.
Desmond Jennings, Tampa’s Crawford replacement, has all but made the Rays faithful forget about Crawford as he has been lighting it up since a mid-summer call up. The Rays have all of the juice going into this matchup despite losing 2 of 3 in Baltimore and send the kitchen sink at the Sox this week including Jeremy Hellickson and David Price.
This would be a good time for Crawford to step up. Josh Beckett comes back from a foot injury but the most important Red Sox player this weekend is Crawford.
He won’t get to .300 this year but that doesn’t matter, he needs to produce runs, get on base, show some power or something to give the Sox a boost.
In order for them to win games the rest of the way Boston will need to outscore everyone. We know the top of the order will come up big but they need more from the bottom of the order and it starts and ends with Crawford.
He has been a huge bust in his first year in Boston but he has two more weeks to show that he is worth his huge deal.
If he produces and Boston prevails this weekend and into the playoffs then all will be well in the nation.
However, if Tampa takes three of four, the Sox fall out of the playoff race and Crawford continues to struggle on the way out, it will be a long winter in Boston for all parties.
Carl Crawford is entering the biggest weekend of his career. Will he finally show that he belongs in Boston and help lift them into October or will he continue to flop under the harsh spotlight of Fenway Park and watch as the Sox continue to flounder?
To say that the nation is on pins and needles to find out is an understatement.