Extra Baggs: Crawford borrows Posey's two-strike approach

Extra Baggs: Crawford borrows Posey's two-strike approach
April 18, 2013, 3:15 pm
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I try to stay up the middle like I pretty much always did & I’m not worrying so much about striking out like I did in the past.
—Brandon Crawford on his two-strike approach

MILWAUKEE – It’s remarkable that Brandon Crawford has more career home runs at Miller Park (three) in 35 plate appearances than he does at AT&T Park (two) in 369 plate appearances.

But that’s not the most remarkable stat after Crawford went 3 for 4 in the Giants’ 7-2 loss Thursday afternoon. The line drive home run he hit in the ninth inning wasn’t what stood out.

[INSTANT REPLAY: Brewers 7, Giants 2

It was the single he hit in the second inning, and the double he hit in the fourth. Both of them came with two strikes.

Crawford, incredibly, is hitting .393 in two-strike counts.

Small sample and all, sure. Inevitable regression? Yeah, we hear you. But here’s how impressive that average is: Last season, Buster Posey hit .261 with two strikes – and it was the fourth best average in the league.

The major league average is usually in the .175 range.

So what is Crawford doing differently with two strikes? Well, nothing, actually. And that’s kind of the point.

“I’m not really changing my approach,” he said. “I try to stay up the middle like I pretty much always did and I’m not worrying so much about striking out like I did in the past. I’m just taking a simpler approach.”

It’s an approach he borrowed from Posey after they talked several times last season about the art of hitting with two strikes.

Jack Nicklaus always advised golfers to take the same swing with every club. That’s kind of the same concept.

“I don’t want to give away any secrets or anything, but a lot of it is mental,” Crawford said. “I’m still trying to make solid contact. I’m not as worried about swinging and missing.”

He’ll get better pitches to hit now that Giants manager Bruce Bochy saw fit to move Crawford out of the No. 8 hole. My guess is that Crawford will hit sixth, with Brandon Belt moved down to seventh.

Tell you what, though … Gregor Blanco is making a ton of hard contact and he’s a base stealing threat in the No. 2 spot. I don’t think you’ll see Bochy move Marco Scutaro out of that spot anytime soon. But it might not be the worst idea in the world to have Scutaro hitting seventh in between Crawford and Belt. That would split up the lefties in the lower portion of the lineup.

Bochy did say that the lineup would reflect how his players are swinging. Bochy doesn’t make those adjustments based on a game or two. But a few weeks will inspire action.

And Crawford has had himself a couple of terrific weeks. He has an 11-game hitting streak. Even better, he’s reached safely in 14 consecutive games, and and he owns a .491 on-base percentage over that stretch.

“You have to like what he’s doing,” Bochy said. “He was the silver lining in these last few games.”

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It didn’t make a major difference in the final accounting, but plate umpire Jerry Meals sure blew it when he ruled that Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch in the second inning.

Replays showed that Matt Cain’s pitch hit the knob of Gomez’s bat. It made a hard sound, too. And the ball shot all the way to first baseman Brandon Belt. Meals told Bochy he couldn’t tell, but he thought the ball got Gomez on the elbow pad.

Nevermind that Brewers trainers, perhaps in a bit of gamesmanship, were checking Gomez’s hand.

“You hate to see that,” Bochy said. “We heard wood. And there’s no way the ball goes where it goes if it hits the pad.”

I thought Bochy might get himself ejected. Something like, “How’s the weather down there.” Meals is not tall, but he almost looks like a member of the Lollipop Guild when Bochy stands next to him.

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It was good for the Giants to get Guillermo Quiroz a few innings and an at-bat. He's not a forgotten man. In fact, the Giants like him enough that whenever they have to abandon their three-catcher setup, you might be more likely to see Quiroz stay and Hector Sanchez go to the minors. Sanchez has minor league options, first of all. Getting him a few weeks of consistent playing time would be good for him, too, after he missed such a big chunk of the spring with his shoulder issue.

I don't think any roster moves are imminent. But the Giants are carrying just four outfielders. If Angel Pagan or Andres Torres gets a little nicked up and one or the other is a little beyond day-to-day, the Giants will have a hard time playing shorthanded for long.

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Thanks to the good folks at the Milwaukee Brat House for teaching me bar dice, and for tolerating a rather huge amount of beginner’s luck on my part. People don’t come any friendlier than here in Wisconsin.

Time to head out of town and make my annual pilgrimage to Kopp’s Frozen Custard. The flavor forecast tells me the choices are chocolate chip cookie dough or birthday cake today.

That’s the only good forecast I’ve seen this week.

Have a good weekend. I’m off for the Padres series but we’ll be well covered on CSNBayArea.com so be sure to keep checking back for the latest. I’ll return on Monday.

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