Yesterday Mike Napoli hit a two-run home run in the second inning and a two-run double in the eighth to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Over the weekend he hit four homer and drove in eight as the Red Sox took two of three. Napoli raised his OPS .140 points over the weekend.
Napoli destroying the Angels is nothing new, of course. Since he was traded away from the Angels after the 2010 season, he has played 47 games against them. In those 47 games he is 55-for-165 with 33 walks, 18 homers and 36 RBI. His batting line: .333/.453/.739. That 1.192 OPS is the highest mark he has against any opponent against whom he has played more than ten games.
I’m not the sort of person who believes that a player can easily turn it on or turn it off against a specific opponent or at a specific time, but in Mike Napoli’s case I’m willing to make an exception. At least when he plays the Angels.
You may recall that, during Napoli’s five seasons with the Angels, he had to fight for playing time. Mike Scioscia was not a fan of his and, as such, Napoli spent a lot of time riding the pine behind Jeff Mathis. It made some sense from a defensive perspective of course, but the total package of Napoli was always more valuable that the total package of Mathis, and there was a strong sense that Napoli was run off unfairly by Scioscia.
Only the two of them know for certain how much bad blood there was and how much, if any, remains. But it’s certainly as entertaining as all get-out to imagine Napoli going up to bat against the Angels with a major chip on his shoulder. And you can’t help but marvel at the results.