Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Ex-Ray Crawford helps send Dodgers into NLCS

LOS ANGELES — In this age of information, in which fans can access your salary as easily as your batting average, Carl Crawford is the $142 million man.

Barry Zito can tell you all about that. The amount of dollars sticks to your name like gum, until you win. Zito was the $126 million man, until the pitcher breathed life into the dying championship run of the Giants last season.

Money comes and money goes, but rings are forever.

Crawford put Los Angeles two big steps closer to jewelry Monday, hitting two home runs in the National League Division Series clincher at Dodger Stadium, and Juan Uribe hit the winner in a 4-3 victory over the Braves.

"I knew it was going to be a close game with tough pitching, so I wanted to be aggressive," the former Rays All-Star said. "I was happy I got the first home run. But the second home run? I couldn't believe it. To hit two home runs in the postseason is definitely big. I was really amazed."

The Dodgers celebrated late into Monday night, and why not? They are off until Friday, when the NL Championship Series opens.

"I just want to keep playing well," said Crawford, who hit three home runs in the series to one for an Atlanta team that led the NL in homers this season. "We've got two rounds to go."

Crawford, 32, came from Boston, where he heard a lot from the fans, most of it hostile. He had signed with the Red Sox, with that $142 million tag on his back, after nine seasons with Tampa Bay, then spent most of two years either injured or unproductive.

When the Dodgers acquired him last summer, he came with a modified tag: overpriced and a bad guy.

"He's not a bad guy," said infielder Nick Punto, who came to Los Angeles with Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. "You've got to perform in Boston. If he could have been performing, he would have been a good guy."

As his first spring training opened with the Dodgers, he called Boston "an environment that was toxic" and said he often regretted signing there. Los Angeles had swallowed his contract and delivered him from misery.

"The change of scenery for me was great," Crawford said. "I felt like myself again. I love it here in L.A., and I'm happy they brought me over here."

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