LOS ANGELES -- Adrian Gonzalez is a West Coast guy. He was born in San Diego and spent his childhood in that city and across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, where his father ran an air-conditioning business.
Gonzalez has looked eminently comfortable since he left Boston for the Los Angeles Dodgers three summers ago, never more so than when he was playing against West Coast teams. Lost in the excitement of Gonzalez's three-home run game Wednesday night against his hometown Padres was that it's part of a larger pattern.
Gonzalez has mashed against Padres pitching, no small feat. He has a .342 career batting average that includes 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 50 games against San Diego.
And that's nothing compared to what Gonzalez has inflicted on the next team the Dodgers are set to face, the Arizona Diamondbacks (Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET). Gonzalez has pounded 31 home runs against Arizona, the most of any major-league team, and slugged an absurd .555 against them.
Gonzalez is just one of many Dodgers players who have saved their best work for games against teams from the National League West, making it a happy coincidence for the Dodgers that 22 of their first 25 games are inside the division. The Dodgers dominated the NL West while racking up 94 wins last season, going 50-26 and finishing with a winning record against all four teams.
If Gonzalez has set that tone for the lineup, Clayton Kershaw has led the pitchers' mastery of teams from the neighborhood. He is 14-5 with a 1.43 ERA in his career against the San Francisco Giants and similarly tough against each of the other teams. His ERA against the Colorado Rockies (3.17) isn't quite as stingy as the others, but it's inflated by the fact 15 of those 26 starts have come at Coors Field, a hitter's paradise.
Zack Greinke, who pitched entirely for Midwest teams until being traded to the Los Angeles Angels three seasons ago, has gotten right in line with the Dodgers' West Coast groove. He has never lost a start to either the Giants or Padres, going 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA against San Diego and 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA against the Giants.
So, while Gonzalez's exploits -- becoming the first major-leaguer ever to hit five home runs in a team's first three games -- are stunning, they're also part of something bigger, something auspicious. The ability to thrive against NL West teams bodes well for the Dodgers' quest to get off to a good start in a season burdened by expectations.