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Adrian Gonzalez, Don Mattingly & the home run streak

Don Mattingly caught fire in July 1987.
Don Mattingly caught fire in July 1987.
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- As one left-handed, line-drive-hitting doubles machine known for his fielding at first base continued the best power surge of his career, another former left-handed, line-drive-hitting doubles machine known for his fielding at first base just smiled from the dugout, happy he gets to manage the other.

"He's a constant, and he has been," manager Don Mattingly said of his first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez. "He's been that guy since he's been here."

Gonzalez hit three home runs in Wednesday's series finale against the Padres, a 7-4 win that got the Dodgers out on the right foot to start the season.

He also homered on Monday and Tuesday, making him the first major leaguer with five home runs in his team's first three games. This was after hitting .222/.254/.365 with two home runs in 67 plate appearances in the Cactus League.

"I didn't feel good at all," Gonzalez said. "But I didn't game plan either, and I wasn't mentally involved."

Gonzalez has a streak of five straight games with a home run dating back to last regular season, tying his career best and tying the Dodgers franchise record. It's safe to say he's mentally involved now.

"I feel like I'm ready to hit a fastball, especially against a team that's really aggressive with the fastball. I'm just trying to be ready to hit," Gonzalez said. "I think everything is clicking and everything feels good."

Mattingly, who hit 30 or more home runs three times in his career - 1985-87, the only three years he hit more than 23 home runs in a season - knows the feeling well. He tied a major league record with a home run in eight consecutive games in July 1987, surrounding the All-Star break.

"I was feeling terrible right before that happened, and all of a sudden just got hot," Mattingly recalled.

It should be noted that feeling terrible for Mattingly meant 6-for-20 (.300) immediately before the streak and .405/.477/.595 in the 33 games prior to his streak, though he did miss 18 games on the disabled list with a back injury, something that would plague him the rest of his career.

Mattingly said he has an idea what is going through Gonzalez's mind right now.

"It's more ride the wave, not hit the homer. I would guess that Adrian is seeing the ball good, so it's 'get a good pitch, hit a ball hard.' When you're hot you're just feeling good. It's more ride this wave, don't let this get away," Mattingly explained. "You want to ride this streak as long as you can as far as hitting the ball hard and seeing the ball good, because you know that funks will happen."

Up next

The Dodgers have Thursday off, when they will travel to Phoenix for a three-game weekend series against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Gonzalez in his career has hit .342/.412/.654 with 20 home runs in 65 games at Chase Field, including .412/.468/.779 with seven home runs in 20 games there since joining the Dodgers.

Brett Anderson makes his Dodgers debut on Friday night, facing off against Chase Anderson, no relation, for Arizona.