Crawford's Woes Mount

Carl Crawford was excluded from the lineup Sunday because of an unfavorable pitching matchup.

On Monday, his absence was health-related.

With the Red Sox playing a pivotal doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles, Crawford sat out both games because of a stiff neck. According to manager Terry Francona, the left fielder tried to take swings in the batting cage before the first game when his neck "just spasmed up."

"He tried to loosen it up," Francona said. "It just wasn't happening. He was getting worse."

The Red Sox split the doubleheader, losing the opener 6-5 and winning the nightcap 18-9, leaving them two games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card race.

Crawford's disappointing first season with the Red Sox continued. After signing a seven-year, $142 million contract last winter, he hasn't met expectations, batting .255 with 11 homers, 53 RBI and a .694 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

In his recurring diary for, Crawford apologized for his poor season.

"I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had," Crawford said. "You (fans) have been really supportive, and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see."

Primarily, the Red Sox have missed Crawford's defense over the past three games.

On Sunday, fill-in left fielder Conor Jackson was unable to catch a fly ball up against the Green Monster. In the opener of Monday's doubleheader, Darnell McDonald misplayed back-to-back fly balls in the third inning. He lost a Nolan Reimold line drive in the sun, then allowed a ball to go off his glove.

"I got there and took my eye off it at the last minute and didn't make the play," McDonald said. "It's a situation where I feel terrible putting my team in a hole like that. But you have to bounce back and play the game. It was a tough day for me in the outfield."

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