When the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez back in December, it didn't take long for somebody to produce a chart showing where every ball he hit at cavernous Petco Park in San Diego would have landed at Fenway Park.
Even once you figured in assorted variables, it was obvious that Gonzalez would enjoy his new environs. His lefthanded swing, which drives the ball the other way with ease, seemed perfectly suited for Fenway.
Today, after he had two singles and a home run in a 9-5 victory against the Twins on his 29th birthday, I asked Gonzalez if he had seen that graphic. He knew of it, but had not looked at it.
“That’s not me,” he said. “I don’t care about that stuff. I don’t care about my stats.”
All Gonzalez wants is a good swing at a good pitch. The rest, he figures, will take care of itself. It always has for him.
After a slow start, the results are coming. Gonzalez is hitting .359 (32 of 92) in the last 22 games with 13 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. He has hit home runs in three of the last six games at Fenway, two of them going over the wall. His batting average is up to .314 and he has a healthy .873 OPS.
“He uses the whole field so well. He’s going to bang the ball, if not over the wall, off the wall. And he can pull the ball when they start pounding him in. It doesn’t matter if a lefthander or a righthander, his approach is so good. It’s nice to have him right in the middle of the order,” manager Terry Francona said.
The Sox had a season-best 14 hits today, five for extra bases. Twins starter Carl Pavano (1-3, 12.00 in four starts at Fenway) was wretched the second time through the order.
That's two in a row for the 16-18 Red Sox, who have been doing the cha-cha with .500 for a few weeks. They face the Twins on Monday with Josh Beckett on the mound.
As for birthday, Gonzo did not seemed impressed.
"We get older every day," he said.
A few other notes and observations from today:
• Jose Iglesias played the ninth inning and threw out Alexi Casilla to end the game. Marco Scutaro playfully hid the kid's glove behind the dugout camera, causing him a few anxious seconds before he took the field.
Francona made it clear that the future is not now for the player his teammates call "Iggy."
“We talked to him this morning. We all think he’s got a really bright future here. I don’t think right now is his time to be our starting shortstop,” the manager said.
Still, it would be fun to see him start at least a game or two before he goes back to Pawtucket.
Iglesias is the youngest player to get in a game for the Sox since righthander Jeff Suppan in 1996, the youngest position player since Rich Gedman in 1980 and the youngest shortstop since Juan Beniquez in 1971.
• As for Scutaro, the Red Sox are saying he has a "moderate oblique strain" and will be shut down for a week before gearing up again. Given the history of such injuries, he could miss more than the minimum 15 days. But Scutaro is a tough cookie and will be back sooner than later.
How tough? Scutaro had two at-bats with the injury bothering him on Saturday. He told himself to take only one good swing each time. That produced a 6-4-3 double play and a single.
• Carl Crawford’s triple in the third inning extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is 12 of his last 31, raising his batting average from .135 to .211. The triple was a bomb off the wall in center and then Crawford ran the bases like Michael Johnson.
• John Lackey was in the bullpen and available if needed after throwing 97 pitches on Thursday. Today was his throw day. "Just visiting with the fellas out there," he said. "But I was ready."
• Clay Buchholz will start on Friday at Yankee Stadium. It will be interesting to see whether the Red Sox stay in line and pitch Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday or come back with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
Thanks to everybody for reading today. Back at it tomorrow.