With his team off to a disappointing start, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona benched his new high-priced outfielder in favor of a backup utility player.
Though the move paid dividends, it seems likely Carl Crawford will be back in the lineup Sunday as Boston tries to win two straight games for the first time this season when it hosts the Toronto Blue Jays.Francona gave Crawford the day off Saturday, and Jed Lowrie went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer in the leadoff spot as the Red Sox (3-10) beat the Blue Jays 4-1 to end a three-game skid.Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142 million contract during the offseason, is hitting .137 with nine strikeouts and one extra-base hit."I guess I'm trying to do too much," Crawford said.Francona, whose team still has the worst record in the majors, said he has confidence Crawford will come around. It's unclear where Crawford will be in the order Sunday if he does start, with Francona already having batted him leadoff, second, third and seventh in hopes of breaking his slump."He really wanted to play, which is good," Francona said Saturday. "But I think it'll do him a lot better to get a day off. I think everybody knows this guy will be really good. He's a really consensus kid. He's trying too hard."Lowrie is 11 for 22 in limited action and responded with his second three-hit game of the season."The hits are there right now," Lowrie said. "That's nice. But it all comes down to preparation. I'm really happy with my preparation."Left-hander Jon Lester (0-1, 3.72 ERA) will look to follow Josh Beckett's strong performance Saturday with one of his own. Lester struck out eight in seven innings Tuesday but allowed three runs in the fifth of Boston's 3-2 defeat to Tampa Bay.He's 6-2 with a 3.10 ERA in eight outings against Toronto since the start of the 2009 season.Lester has received a total of two runs of support over his last two outings, but Crawford could help end that trend Sunday. He's 5 for 10 with a home run in his career against Jesse Litsch (1-0, 2.38 ERA), who will start for the Blue Jays.Litsch looked primed to pick up his second win Monday against Seattle, going five innings and leaving the game with a 5-0 lead, but the bullpen blew it as Toronto lost 8-7.The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.83 ERA in seven starts against Boston, but he's allowed 11 runs and 21 hits in 15 1/3 career innings at Fenway Park.Toronto (7-7) hopes Litsch has better control than most of its pitchers have shown through two games of this series, having walked 14 Boston batters."They're not going to expand the zone when they're in favorable counts," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of the Red Sox. "That's what they're very good at, that's what they're known for."Aaron Hill is 5 for 7 in this series, but he's 2 for 24 in his career against Lester.Yunel Escobar had his streak of reaching base safely snapped at 11 games for the Blue Jays, who have lost five of seven.