Adrian Gonzalez has arrived

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Adrian Gonzalez has arrived

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

This is what weve all been waiting for, even if we never knew exactly what this was.

But after 40 games, its official: Adrian Gonzalez has arrived.

From the moment Theo mortgaged the farm to bring A-Gon to Boston, and even after the team invested 154 million to ensure that hed stay, there was something about Gonzalez that Sox fans couldnt understand.

Gonzalez was the Great Unknown. Which is to say, we knew he was going to be great, we just didnt know how.

Of course, in the general sense, we did. For years, we watched the highlights, saw the stats, and then, once the deal became official, listened as every one of baseballs most respected minds wet themselves over how unbelievable Gonzalez would be in this lineup, in this stadium, with that big, fat wall in left field. We came into this season with every expectation that Gonzalez would be the best hitter on the Red Sox, if not in the entire American League.

Still, something about him remained a mystery. Despite the resume and the references, it didnt feel real.

The problem was this: For all wed read and seen and heard about Gonzalez, wed yet to really live it.

Can you say that about any major acquisition? Sure, but this was different.

Unlike Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett or even John Lackey, Gonzalez had never excelled on the big stage. He has as many career playoff home runs and RBI as I do. Hes also only played in four career postseason games, but really, thats the point. Hed just never been there. Wed never heard Bob Costas or Joe Buck deliver a drawn-out, sappy, romanticized monologue on the wonders of Adrian Gonzalez. Wed never seen him take a team to typically unattainable heights. He has a catalog of great seasons, but no moments that define his greatness.

Also, unlike Manny Ramirez or Carl Crawford, Gonzalez had never faced Boston in a big situation. Hed never instilled the fear of God in Sox fans. We never knew what it was like to be faced with his greatness, so it was hard to have as much respect for what he could do. Gonzalezs played three career games against Boston, and had one hit. And considering that came in the seventh inning of a game played out in San Diego, theres a good chance you didnt see it.

And thats the overriding theme. Gonzalez was a guy whod spent the last five years emerging, and then solidifying his spot among the greatest hitters in all of baseball. And for the most part, you just didnt see it.

Its strange to have that experience with a superstar in this day and age, with the 24-hour sports cycle haunting our every move, Baseball Tonight and the MLB Network making every team important, fantasy baseball making every player important, and the Internet making the whole world feel as cramped as a Fenway Park bathroom, but Gonzalez slipped through the cracks.

You knew he was there (especially if he was on your fantasy team), and that he was always on the Sox radar, but you never really knew him. There were no big sponsorships, or cool commercials. He did the Home Run Derby once, hit two homers in the first round and faded back into the crowd. He lived, breathed and succeeded in obscurity.

None of that mattered once he came to Boston. Regardless of anything you didnt know about him then, you knew what he was supposed to be now. He was the present and the future of this team. He was amends for Teixeira. At Fenway, he was maybe even better. You knew what to expect, you were just waiting for it to happen.

And at first it didnt.

For his first month in Boston, Gonzalez, again, was unlike any superstar weve had. He wasnt outspoken or quirky or flashy or really, much of anything. In fact, while we spent most of that time lamenting Crawfords struggles, Gonzalez remained in obscurity. He did nothing great, nothing awful. He hit .314 in that first month, but he had as many home runs (1) as Darnell McDonald. When he took the plate, there was nothing special or unique. Nothing to separate him form the pack. He didnt fidget psychotically like Nomar; he calmly stepped into the box. He didnt wave the bat menacingly like Manny; he set his feet, rested the bat on his shoulder and didnt move until the pitch was on its way. He didnt spit fire and glare angrily at the pitcher like Ortiz; Gonzalez looked out at the mound with a focused, non-descript stare, like an MIT student honing in on an algorythm. He was just blah. We learned nothing about him . . . or, in retrospect, maybe we learned everything about him. Regardless, unlike Crawford, there was never any concern over what Gonzalez might do.

We were never exactly sure what we were waiting for. We just knew it was coming, and that thered be no questions once it arrived.

Needless to say, the wait is over.

In 13 games this month, Gonzalez has more home runs (8), than any other Red Sox has for the entire season, and only Kevin Youkilis' season total of 22 RBI can top the 19 Gonzalez has knocked in since the first of the month. He leads or is tied for the team lead in hits, runs, batting average, doubles, homers, RBI, slugging and OPS. Hes kept the same demeanor, but instead of looking like a college kid attacking a math problem, it's now more like a nuclear technician diffusing a warhead. What once looked stoic and unaffected is now unflappable and you can see how much that scares the hell out of the other team. You can see how we works, how he will work, and how much better Boston will be for it.

Now, we're finally learning what Adrian Gonzalez is all about.

And it was definitely worth the wait.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six


After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
---
Rob Whalen RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
---
Brian Johnson LHP 

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.