Commentary

Gonzalez now showing his true colors

Slugger's recent production at plate is what Red Sox have been waiting for

Updated: May 14, 2011, 3:33 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

NEW YORK -- John W. Henry has mostly gotten out of the tweeting business these days, leaving that particular form of social networking to his wife, Linda Pizzuti, an enthusiastic practitioner.

But if the first couple of Red Sox baseball was ever inclined to recycle Henry's most notable tweet of the past couple of years, Friday night's 5-4 win over the Yankees might have been just the time. Or have you forgotten "The MT curse?"

That was what Henry tweeted back in 2009, after the Sox had beaten the New York Yankees for the eighth straight time that season, and Henry took a veiled shot at Mark Teixeira, the first baseman who had snubbed the Sox to sign with the Yankees. Henry later said it was intended to be "pure entertainment." Teixeira chalked it up as "silly," although he added a snarky rejoinder about how it was pointless "to get into any war of words with a 70-something-year-old man," adding more than a decade to Henry's birth certificate.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Gonzalez
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireAdrian Gonzalez had another big game Friday ...

It really did look silly when Teixeira led the Yankees to a World Series title that year, and the Bombers returned to the postseason again last season while the Sox finished out of the money.

But while it took Boston two years, Henry and the Red Sox now have their answer to Teixeira in Adrian Gonzalez, who was once Teixeira's caddie in Texas but might prove to be the ultimate instrument to settle an old score.

Playing his first game in the new Yankee Stadium on Friday night, Gonzalez hit a home run in his second at-bat off Bartolo Colon, his eighth home run of the season and seventh in the past 10 games. He also hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in Boston's three-run seventh and leads the American League with 31 RBIs.

Teixeira, meanwhile, failed to get the ball out of the infield in five at-bats, striking out, rolling out and popping out three times, including an infield fly to Kevin Youkilis to end the game. On that final at-bat, Teixeira represented the potential winning run against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had given up consecutive two-out hits that cut Boston's lead to one.

Teixeira does not have a hit in 17 at-bats against Sox pitching this season and has struck out seven times. Going back to the last weekend of the 2010 season, he is now hitless in his past 28 at-bats against the Sox, whiffing nearly half the time (13 strikeouts).

How does Gonzalez affect the balance of power between these teams?

The question elicited a loud cackle from David Ortiz.

"That guy is crazy,'' Ortiz said. "I knew he was a bad [multisyllabic expression found in the title of Chris Rock's new Broadway play], but gol dang, that [same expression] is ... he's crazy.''

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire... Mark Teixeira (0-for-5) was not as productive.

Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan was serving in the same capacity in San Diego when Gonzalez first went to the Padres, the Texas Rangers having decided that with Teixeira around, Gonzalez was expendable. The two lasted just a half-season together before Magadan was fired, as if the hitting coach was the reason no one could put up numbers in cavernous Petco Park.

Magadan laughed when asked whether the fruits of his abbreviated labors with Gonzalez were finally paying off.

"It's residual,'' Magadan said. "The work may show up late, but it shows up.''

But no, he added, he has never seen Gonzalez like this before.

"He was a good hitter,'' Magadan said, "but the damage he's doing now, that's, like, legendary what he's done the last week.''

In his past seven games, Gonzalez is batting .419 (13-for-31) with six home runs, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and two doubles. Four of his home runs have come in the past three games. After going the opposite way on each of his previous five home runs, Gonzalez turned on a high fastball from Colon and launched it into the second deck of right field.

"What can you say; he's so good at staying with his plan,'' Magadan said. "He's saying to himself, 'I think I'm going to get pitched inside here,' then laying off the stuff that can get him out, then getting the pitch he's looking for and doing damage with it.

"He's as good as advertised."

Gonzalez could hardly be more nonchalant about his hot streak, attributing his success Friday night to a cheesesteak he ate before the game. He dismissed the suggestion that he elected to pull the ball to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch.

"Bartolo was going to pound me in,'' Gonzalez said. "I knew that he wasn't going to give me much to go the other way with. My game plan was to pick and choose my spots to look for a pitch middle-in that I could drive to right field. He left it more middle than he wanted to.''

Gonzalez has a history of hitting home runs in bunches: nine in a span of 10 days in July 2006; seven in a span of eight days in September 2008; seven in six days in May 2009. But for the first time, the Red Sox are getting to enjoy the show.

"He's a player we signed here for a reason,'' said Kevin Youkilis, whose two-run home run in the seventh actually provided the margin of victory. "It's fun to sit back and watch.

"I get a great look on-deck. It's definitely a lot of fun to watch him hit the ball to left field, right field. He's a special player, and he's definitely showing why the Red Sox were so adamant to get him.''

The curse of MT? How about the blessing of AG?

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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