Monday, April 14, 2014

A-Gon looks like a Padre again

With four homers in four straight games, Adrian Gonzalez is playing like the 30/100 guy he was in San Diego.

And what do you know, the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in three because of it.

One night after a five RBI performance, A-Gon gathered three more on a homer, and the Dodgers held off the DBacks 8-6.  In addition to the sweep, the Dodgers have now won five of six, and are sitting atop the NL West at 9-4.

There have been a lot of reasons the Dodgers have been winning, but Gonzalez is right at the front of it.  Like I said before, I can't help but think of the guy who torched the Dodgers for years while wearing a San Diego uniform.  For five years from 2006-2010, he averaged 32 homers and 100 RBIs.  Those are monster numbers for a place known for favoring the pitching in Petco Park.

Offseason shoulder surgery in October of 2010 zapped him of his usual power, though he still put up 27 and 117 in 2011 for the Red Sox.  But, his home run totals dropped to 18 in 2012 with the Red Sox and Dodgers, and 22 last season.  He set a very high standard for himself in the power department, and reconstructing your shoulder is not the best way to keep reaching those numbers.

Maybe it really did take a few years for A-Gon to feel normal again, because at 31 (32 in about a month), he looks young again.  Obviously it's still early, but he's second in the NL in home runs and third in RBIs.  He's hit cleanup in every game, and no matter which side of the mound the opposing pitcher is delivering from, Don Mattingly has no reason to change that.  The parts around him change, but he's been the one constant through 13 games.

There is no better sight than the sweet lefty swing of Gonzalez, and hopefully there's plenty more to come.  I'm sure there is.

Other thoughts from the game:

* Dan Haren scuffled and struggled at 110 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, but got plenty of support to get the win, improving to 2-0.  He was practically untouchable his first two starts, so maybe he was due for some reality.  Still, a win's a win, so he'll take it.

* If there has been one blemish during the 5-0 stretch against the DBacks this season, it's been the bullpen.  Paco Rodriguez gave up a run and only got one out.  Jamey Wright gave up a towering three-run bomb to Mark Trumbo.  Fortunately J.P. Howell, Chris Perez, and Kenley Jansen were perfect over the final two innings, as Jansen earned his fourth save.

* Dee Gordon was in full "Flash" mode with four stolen bases.  One of them was when Randall Delgado wasn't paying attention on the mound.  He got on base three of his five plate appearances and scored a run.  More and more he's showing why he's the everyday second baseman.

* In addition to A-Gon, Matt Kemp and Juan Uribe each hit solo shots, which turned out to be the difference when this was all said and done.

* I'm wondering if Chone Figgins is on borrowed time.  With Brian Wilson, Clayton Kershaw, and eventually Chad Billingsley on their way back, Figgins seems like he's expendable.  It's not like he does much, as he pinch-hit and struck out in this one, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's sent packing.

* Let's see more of guys like Perez and Howell pitching in the seventh and eighth, and not Wright, who should pitch in long relief.  Maybe Mattingly intended to stretch Wright out, but Trumbo changed all of that.

* This was a really long game at 3:39, but it's always worth it in the end with a win.

Monday is an off day, then it's off to San Francisco for three.  The Dodgers won't exactly be starting the series off with a bang, as Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm go the first couple of games.  Then it'll be Hyun-Jin Ryu, whom the Giants whipped around in the home opener.  Plus the Giants are in second place at 8-5, so they'll be looking to take over the lead by the end of Thursday.

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