ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Gonzalez finds the Boston approach to baseball sort of amusing.
It's 162 one-game seasons for the Red Sox. Win one day and you're the best team ever. Lose the next and everybody has to get fired. So when Gonzalez went through a stretch where he hit one home run over a span of 157 at-bats, people immediately assumed something was wrong.
It's his neck. It's his shoulder. He's tired. The league has figured him out. He's just a singles hitter. Or the ever popular idea that the Home Run Derby had ruined him.
Gonzalez never wavered in his explanation, pointing out that his batting average was higher than it ever had been, he was contributing to the team and that home runs would come as the tempo of his swing improved. He had merely fallen into some bad habits that would be fixed in time.
That time has come. Gonzalez cracked two home runs tonight to help the Sox beat the Rangers 6-0. That's five homers in a span of three games for Gonzalez, the last three coming on successive pitches.
Boom, boom, boom.
Confidence plays a role in that kind of accomplishment, even for a hitter with Gonzalez’s credentials.
“When you’re not feeling well, you don’t go up there and be ready to swing at the first pitch. You might want to see a pitch or two,” said Gonzalez, who is hitting .348 with 23 home runs and 102 RBIs. “That’s something everybody would agree with.”
Gonzalez hit his first home run in the first inning, connecting on a fastball from Alexi Ogando and driving it onto the grassy hill beyond the fence in center field.
With a runner on and one out in the third inning, Gonzalez again lashed at a fastball and this time drove it to left center field. It landed 448 feet away, his longest shot of the season.
“I hit that pretty good,” Gonzalez said. “That’s probably one of the better swings I can take, staying behind the ball, drive it to left center.”
Dustin Pedroia, watching from the on-deck circle, was impressed.
“What’s it’s like? It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. I like home runs,” he said.
The Sox left Texas having proven that they can indeed beat the Rangers, having outscored them 30-7 over three games after losing the series opened 4-0.
“The thing was they whupped our butts for three days,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Even Andrew Miller shut down Texas, throwing a gem for 6.1 innings before getting what seemed like a quick hook from Terry Francona. Miller allowed three singles, walked two and struck out six. It was the longest start for Miller since July 4, 2009 when he was with the Florida Marlins.
Inserted back into the rotation last week because of a busy schedule, Miller has given up one run on three hits over 11.2 innings with four walks and nine strikeouts.
Check out Bob Ryan's column tomorrow for more on Miller.
As for the Sox, they were 10-7 in a span of 17 games in 18 in five states and two time zones. They emerged in first place, healthy and playing well. It's hard to ask for anything more than that.
They'll arrive home around 5 a.m. today then play three games with the Athletics in a span of 24 hours. It has been a taxing time for the Sox, but they're persevering.
“I don’t think it’s time to take a deep breath,” Francona said. “But we’re hanging in there.”