CLEVELAND - Carl Crawford has struggled mightily in his first season with the Red Sox. He entered Wednesday's series finale against the Indians hitting .212 with two home runs. To say it's been a tough start for him would certainly be an understatement.
"I think so," said manager Terry Francona. "I think he, obviously he cares so much. I don't know if it's so much pats on the back as it is trying to be consistent. Sometimes you start patting them too much, they get scared. But I just think, just be consistent, because we all believe in him and I know he believes in himself. It's nice to see him swing the bat like he did, that's for sure."
After going 4-for-4 in Wednesday's 14-2 thumping of the Indians, with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored, and four RBI, Crawford has raised his average to .229, a season high for him. In May he is hitting .276, going 24-for-87, with two home runs.
"I'm just trying to have good at-bats," he said. "I definitely feel better than what I did before. I just have to take that for what it is.
"Just feels good to win a game, to help contribute. I don't really know what to say about myself personally. We won the game -- it feels nice to help do something in the game where I can contribute."
While he is still well off his career average of .293, he is hoping a game like this -- falling a triple shy of the cycle -- can kickstart his season.
"I hope," Crawford said. "Anything positive will help do something. I just try to look for anything positive to help get to the next day. It's definitely a game I can build off of."
Crawford has mostly hit in the bottom third of the order, with a handful of games at the top of the lineup. It doesn't matter to him, he said, where he hits -- as long as he hits. There might be less pressure, though, in the lower part of the lineup.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't have an answer for that. I just have to go out and play. I've been playing with pressure my whole career. So I can't say it's helped me."
Crawford has never hit for the cycle before -- not in Little League, not in high school, not in the minors.
"No, never," he said. "It's not easy."
The possibility crossed his mind briefly Wednesday.
"I thought about it at my last at-bat, not early on," he said.
While he didn't get the cycle, he does feel that his swing is getting to where he wants it to be.
"I don't know, I just feel a little bit better," he said. "I just don't like dissecting it too much because that's what got me in trouble earlier. Just trying not to give every little detail of my swing. I just feel better."
For his teammates, it's just a matter of time before Crawford is back to his customary level.
"Yeah, he swung the bat great," Dustin Pedroia said. "We still got a lot of games to go. So there'll be a time in the year where he's got plenty to carry us. We're counting on him."
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen