Crawford stars with bat, defense vs. Brewers

Crawford stars with bat, defense vs. Brewers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' series opener Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers was shaping up to be a rather formless affair, with no particular theme developing or any individual emerging as dominant.

Then shortstop Brandon Crawford settled behind the driver's seat of this game and drove it in the direction he chose, resulting in a deceptively lopsided 11-5 Giants victory.

Defensively, Crawford made a startling and effective play that erased a Brewers lead runner and muted a rally. Offensively, Crawford drove in three runs that helped the Giants scamper away from Milwaukee by scoring seven of the final eight runs.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Crawford and other #ASGWorthy players

Crawford made his presence felt immediately after the Brewers forged a 4-4 tie in the sixth inning on back-to-back doubles by Aaron Hill and Ramon Flores off reliever Albert Suarez. Crawford then fielded pinch-hitter Alex Presley's grounder up the middle and appeared set to throw to first base. Instead, noticing that Flores was trying to advance, Crawford whirled and fired the ball to third, where Matt Duffy applied the tag for the inning's first out.

Crawford's smart play gets out

"I think he surprised everybody," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Crawford.

Everybody, perhaps, except Duffy and himself.

"I saw that [Flores] kind of paused to make sure it got by Suarez, so he kind of paused there for a second and [the ball] got to me relatively quick," Crawford said. "I thought I might have a shot at third, and when I spun around, I saw that I had a lane to throw and I went for it."

Crawford's sac fly to left

Crawford highlighted San Francisco's half of the sixth with a sacrifice fly that nudged the Giants ahead. He helped sustain a four-run seventh inning, which began with two outs and nobody on base, by tallying the Giants' fourth consecutive single, a bloop to center that drove in Brandon Belt and Buster Posey.

Such production can almost be expected from Crawford, who's batting .338 (26-for-77) with 18 RBIs in the seventh inning or later. He's also 13 for his last 22 (.591) with runners in scoring position.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.