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Crawford steals more than bases

You watch baseball long enough, you’re bound to see something you have never seen before. Really. When was the last time you saw Carl Crawford rob someone of a home run?

Even Crawford can’t remember.

“I don’t think I’ve ever robbed a home run before,” he told reporters in St. Louis after Tuesday’s All-Star game.

Crawford can’t do it at Tropicana Field because the walls are too high. Yes, they did lower the fence in the left-field corner, but no one has tested CC, and reaching over a four-foot fence isn’t quite as dramatic as leaping above an eight-foot wall.

There were times on the road where it appeared Crawford had a chance to stick his glove above the fence to make a catch, but he either hit the wall too soon or he mistimed his jump, or he reached for the ball and came away with air.

He got it right Tuesday when he jumped and reached over the left-field fence at Busch Stadium and robbed Colorado’s Brad Hawpe of a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh. The score was tied at 3-3 at the time. The American League scored in its next at-bat and won 4-3.

“I picked a good time to do it,” Crawford said.

The game-changing grab earned Crawford the game MVP honors, making him the first Ray to bring home such hardware from an All-Star game.

“They totally caught me off-guard,” Crawford said about the award. “I don’t really know what to say. I just hope I can come back many times and try to win it again.”

The Rays’ man of steal proved he can steal more than bases. FOX announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver seemed a little disappointed when Crawford only tried once to steal second base after his pinch-hit single in the fifth (the hitter, Ichiro Suzuki, fouled off the pitch).

Turns out, Crawford had a greater theft in store, though he had no idea the game would take him to such heights.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Crawford would help the AL win with his glove. We here in the Tampa Bay area see him do it all the time, whether he’s chasing a ball down the line or racing into the gap or sprinting to grab a sinking line drive.

We see it so much, we tend to take it for granted.

A lot of people consider Crawford the top left fielder in baseball, and he certainly added to that reputation Tuesday.

Performing on one of baseball’s biggest stages, CC even impressed himself.

“It’s definitely probably my best catch I’ve ever made,” he said.

Definitely probably?

Let’s leave it at definitely.