Crawford hit hard in his shortest start of season

Hamilton has career-high three hits against team that drafted him

May 25th, 2024

BOSTON -- Kutter Crawford’s first five starts this season -- during which he notched a 0.66 ERA and didn’t allow a home run -- perhaps set the bar a little too high.

Those numbers would be hard for anyone to sustain.

The dropoff after that sizzling stretch had been subtle in the five ensuing starts, in which Crawford pitched to a 3.52 ERA.

His 11th start Friday was something Crawford hadn’t experienced all season. The Brewers tagged him for six runs on seven hits and two walks for his shortest outing (4 1/3 innings) of 2024, a 7-2 loss to Milwaukee at Fenway Park.

So what happened?

“Pretty terrible, to be honest,” Crawford said. “I wasn't able to make quality pitches in certain counts, and they put some good swings on the ball. But overall, just not a good outing by me.”

The best of those swings was provided by William Contreras, who scorched a flat sweeper to the tune of an exit velocity of 111.8 mph that sent some souvenir popcorn flying all over the place in the Monster Seats.

“The sweeper shape was not good,” Crawford said. “Obviously, I left the one hanging to Contreras there. and he put a good swing on it. But yeah, overall, with the sweeper tonight, I didn't have a great feel for it. I was able to get ahead 0-2, 1-2, but then I didn’t make competitive pitches in those counts and worked in deep counts. Just not a very good job by me.”

Crawford came into Friday using his sweeper 23 percent of the time this season. That shrunk to 11 percent on Friday, as Crawford had to rely more heavily on his cutter and four-seamer.

Against the Brewers’ offense -- which is top five in a few key categories -- that wasn’t enough.

“He’s been having a good year,” Contreras said. “But I think I had to take the mindset away from him and the success he’s having this year. The focus was on the plan and staying in the moment.”

On a micro level, Friday was just a bad night at the office for Crawford.

On a macro level, it represented a sign to the 28-year-old that this is his time to start making counter-adjustments to teams that are well aware of his strong start.

“Sure,” Crawford said. “Just go back and kind of look at pitch mixes, seeing what the righties are doing. The righties are hurting me right now. Just got to change my sequences up with them.”

Hamilton gaining prominence
When Trevor Story suffered a season-ending left shoulder injury in the eighth game of the season, David Hamilton was swiftly thrust into the limelight.

At first, the rookie didn’t respond well on offense or defense. And that led to him spending more time on the bench than in the lineup as Ceddanne Rafaela moved from center field to shortstop.

Of late, however, Hamilton has earned more playing time to the degree that manager Alex Cora is looking for ways to get him into the lineup.

That paid off again on Friday, as Hamilton had a career-high three hits against the Brewers, the organization that traded him to the Red Sox prior to the ‘22 season.

“Hammy’s playing well,” Cora said. “He’s swinging the bat, and with him in the lineup, we're more athletic. He’s hitting the ball hard. Obviously, the running part of it is real, and defensively, he's been making plays.”

In his last 10 games, Hamilton is 9-for-27 with three doubles, a triple and a homer.

“I’ve been working a lot in the cage recently with the time off that I had,” Hamilton said. “I was doing little tweaks on the swing, and it's been working, so keep trying to do it.”

Once Hamilton settled down on defense, it allowed him to relax at the plate.

“I mean, hitting is going to come and go, but you’ve got to try and always play good defense,” Hamilton said. “That’s going to really help the team.”