SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Crawford is in the midst of one of the hottest hitting streaks of his eight-year career. He continued a scorching month of May with a 4-4, two-run performance in San Francisco’s 5-3 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night.
Crawford was bound to break out of an early-season slump. Through the first 27 games, the Giants shortstop was hitting .189 with a .537 OPS and only three RBI.
“He’s a good hitter,” Bruce Bochy said after Tuesday night’s win. “Where his numbers were early, I said he’s going to get back to where he normally is.”
But his May production has been among the most prolific stretches of his career.
Crawford has raised his average a whopping .101 points in the last 14 games, now sitting at .290. He has hit safely in 12 out of the past 14 games. Eight of those are multi-hit performances, and four of those are at least three-hit outings. He had only one such performance in the first 29 games this season.
Those are remarkable stats not just for Crawford, a lifetime .253 hitter, but any player.
“These runs don’t happen very often,” Bochy said. “He is just seeing the ball well, using the whole field, going to the left (and) pulling balls.”
Every one of Crawford’s four hits Tuesday night was a no-doubter.
Leading off the second inning, he scorched a left-field double after an eight-pitch at-bat. Then he singled to right field on a five-pitch at-bat. Then he drove a poorly located fastball straight up the middle. For his fourth hit, he hopped on a first-pitch fastball and hit another hard line drive to left field for a single.
His ascent has bolstered a Giants lineup that has yet to really take off this season. The Giants entered Tuesday ranked 18th in the league with 171 runs, 18th with a .717 OPS, and 11th with a .255 batting average.
In the past three games, however, the Giants seem to be turning the page, averaging more than 12 hits and nearly seven runs during a three-game winning streak. The Giants are now 22-21 and 3.5 games back from the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Crawford’s season validates the inevitable ebbs and flows that will cycle throughout a 162-game marathon. He does not represent neither the poor hitter we saw through the first 29 games nor the Hall-of-Fame caliber hitter we have seen in the past 14 games.
Since Crawford’s rookie year in 2011, he has never hit better than .275 or worse than .246. His homers will likely be in the 10-20 range. Crawford has always been a hitter who attacks the gaps, accentuated with a league-leading 11 triples in 2016.
He has not come back down to earth from a hot May just yet.
Despite this, Bochy said he is considering giving his shortstop a day off in the near future. Crawford has played in 41 of the team’s 43 games, tied for the most on the team.
But the Giants manager does not expect that decision to be made without some push-back.
“His back was tight yesterday, but he came in today and said he felt pretty good,” Bochy said. “And when a hitter gets on a roll like this, he wants to play.”
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