Crawford lowered his shoulder and ran through Houston catcher Humberto Quintero to score a run during an 8-4 loss to the Astros on Wednesday, just the type of all-out hustle the Rays hope will help them climb out of the AL East cellar this year.
"You want to play hard every day. You don't really want to do that too often, but in that situation it was kind of a tough spot," said Crawford, who scored from first base on B.J. Upton's double into the left-field corner.
The relay throw got past Quintero for an error, allowing Upton to score for a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.
"A bat was on the right side, and that's where I was about to slide," Crawford said. "He was kind of up the line, more so than where catchers usually stand. I really didn't have too much of a choice.
"You're honestly just trying to touch home plate any way you can. You notice I just made sure I touched home plate. That's all I was thinking about."
Jose Cruz Jr. went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs for the Astros, who scored four times in the sixth and twice in the seventh to pull away. David Newhan also drove in two runs for Houston.
Upton was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI doubles for the Rays, who lost for the first time this spring after winning their first four exhibitions for the first time in franchise history. Crawford's play was symbolic of the new attitude the club has forged during an offseason of change.
In addition to modifying their nickname and unveiling new team colors and uniforms, the Rays revamped the roster and boosted payroll, moves that have spawned hope for a team that's finished last in nine of its 10 seasons.
"We're here to win," right-hander Jason Hammel said. "That's the bottom line."
Notes: Hammel, competing with four others for two spots in Tampa Bay's rotation, allowed two runs and four hits in three innings. ... Astros starter Runelvys Hernandez worked 2 1-3 innings, yielding a run and four hits. He walked three and struck out three.