BALTIMORE -- Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford is, in some ways, probably happy his first year in Boston is over.
All the hype and promise he brought to the Red Sox last winter when general manager Theo Epstein handed him a seven-year deal worth $142 million never reached its pinnacle.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, their season ended Wednesday night when the ball popped out of Crawford's glove with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and allowed the game-winning run to score in a shocking 4-3 loss that ended Boston’s once-promising season.
With two outs, a runner in scoring position and the game knotted at 3-3, the Orioles’ Robert Andino hit a sinking liner to left field. Teammate Nolan Reimold took off on contact from second base as Crawford charged in to make the play. Boston’s left fielder went into a slide when the ball hit his mitt, and the ball scooted out.
Crawford quickly grabbed the ball and attempted to get the runner at the plate to no avail. When asked if he normally would have made that play, Crawford explained the situation.
“If I should have caught it, I would have got it,” he said. “It was a tough play and I tried to do the best I could.
“I thought I had a good play on it but it was a tough play and unfortunately I didn’t come up with it. It’s just one of those things where you have to go for it.”
Crawford said the ball was sinking fast and he knew he wouldn’t have time to dive for it, so that’s why he slid.
“It was low so I knew I just had to try to slide. I couldn’t dive, so I had to try to get under it and I wasn’t able to,” he explained.
When the ball headed Crawford’s way, Red Sox manager Terry Francona thought his outfielder could make the play.
“I was hoping,” said Francona. “I thought he had a chance and he gave it the best chance he could. You ask the players to do the best they can and he did. If he caught it we’d still be playing, but that’s the way the game is.”
Moments after the Red Sox exited the field, there was still a chance their season could have been extended by at least one more game had the New York Yankees defeated Crawford’s former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. But the Rays won on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th inning to earn the AL wild card as Crawford and his teammates watched in the clubhouse at Camden Yards.
“It was definitely a heartbreaker for us. I watched it as soon as I walked in and it definitely gave us a bad feeling,” Crawford said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t make it.
"It’s very disappointing because we had high expectations,” he added. “We didn’t live up to them.”
Crawford could have been talking about himself. He finished with a .255 average, 11 home runs, 56 RBIs and only 18 stolen bases.
“My season was definitely a tough, rough season for me,” he said. “I didn’t play as well as I would like to play, but hopefully next year I’ll come back and play better.”