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Adrian Gonzalez knows how to spoil a great moment

He finally comes through for the Dodgers against the Giants but wilts under pressure after the big win.

September 08, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez shows a little emotion after tripling to lead off the ninth inning with the score tied Saturday against San Francisco.
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez shows a little emotion after tripling… (Monica M. Davey / EPA )

SAN FRANCISCO — — So I'm blown away by the incredible feats, the Choking Dogs winning a game and one of the miserable failures acquired in a trade finally coming through.

Up until now, Adrian Gonzalez has been James Loney — and we know what that means: good glove, no hit and no sign of life.

Gonzalez goes 0 for 4 in the team's biggest game of the season as they lose to the Giants in Game 1 of this series, then opens Game 2 by grounding into a double play.

In doing so, he shows all the emotion of a mercenary paid to do a job, and oh well if it doesn't go well.

By the time he comes up in the ninth inning, he's 0 for 3 and hitting .228 for the Dogs. He's every bit the flat liner the folks in Boston said he was there, melting when called on to deliver in a key situation.

But here he is tripling to lead off the ninth inning in a 2-2 game, going on to score, the Dogs going on to win and the team 6-8 since the trade with Boston.

Later, he goes serious in the clubhouse and tells reporters, "You should be happy when [the players] agree" to talk to the media.

Too bad we can't ask for their autographs as well, or maybe pull their cars around to the front for them.

The guy gets a big hit, the Dogs collapsing under the weight of his nonperformance the last two weeks, and now he wants to take a bow.

I'm teasing him with the truth, of course, saying nothing a frustrated Dogs fan wouldn't tell him right now: What have you guys shown us to think you have any shot of winning a division title?

In short, I'm challenging him: "You have no shot," I say.

"We're getting there," Gonzalez says. "I don't know about winning the division; I just know we're getting in the playoffs one way or the other."

How? I want to know. Matt Kemp is hurting, the Dodgers aren't getting much from their ballyhooed lineup and pitching has been a problem.

He says he's not going to give anyone a story, and this is after a euphoric win and everyone slobbering over him. Gonzalez gets testy when it's suggested he's a baseball player and might know how the Dogs can turn it on.

"That's right, I'm a baseball player and not a question and answer," he says. "It's not in my contract [to talk to the media].

"Anything else?" he says, turning away. "Let everyone else ask questions."

But no one does, and this was his reputation in Boston, shutting down after games when the moment seemed to be too much.

He's played the game the same way since joining the Dogs.

His rep is that he could not take the pressure of big-time Boston baseball, fans souring on him quickly. But he comes here and fans once again are eager to embrace him.

But how do you root for a statue?

J.D. Drew comes to mind, and how did that go while he was in L.A.?

Has the belly-flop of the last two weeks been the adjustment that comes with a change, or did the people in Boston have Gonzalez pegged correctly?

He has the ability to be self-deprecating, saying after the game he told hitting coach Dave Hansen earlier, "I was going to get a hit before the season ended."

He claps when he triples, saying he is capable of showing emotion.

"In big situations in games I will," he says, and so much for the Show Time Dodgers. "That's as much as you are going to see out of me; that's like someone else jumping up and down for 30 seconds."

How about a sign he's as upset as fans when failing to deliver as a hitter?

"You guys don't go down in the tunnel after at-bats," he says. "Helmets are being slammed and chairs are being thrown around."

Is that an exaggeration or actually true?

"That's actually true," he says, and good to know because it would be hard to know otherwise.

He says he doesn't like to show emotion on the field because "it's showing a weakness to the other team."

But right now the Dogs need an emotional boot to the keister — so often we've seen a fired-up team playing better than it might if just going about its business.

Kemp is very good at pumping everyone up, but right now he's dealing with shoulder pain, MRI machines and the disappointment of not being able to play.

And yet he takes question after question about his injury, still very much the team leader, while a locker away Gonzalez wilts.

Manager Don Mattingly talks about these guys getting on a roll, but how do you gain momentum with a bunch of sleepwalkers? As gloomy as the Dogs' prospects seem to be right now for making the playoffs, it cannot be the grind as usual.

Gonzalez is the guy, supposedly the best player on the field when Kemp isn't playing. So where's the fire, or a hint that it's burning deep inside? We never did get it from Drew.

Gonzalez was the reason everyone in L.A. was so excited two weeks ago following the deal with Boston.

Maybe that's all there is and you should just be happy to have the chance to have him on your team.

I'D LIKE to think he had a good seat for Saturday's UCLA game.

Steve Claman, one of the Bruins' best all-time fans, cheering for years from the 45-yard line, passed away on Aug. 23.

His son, Doug, emailed to say, "Every UCLA football win, no matter how they achieve it, brings comfort to our family."

What a great reason to root Saturday for UCLA.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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