Ten years ago, perhaps even five years ago, Adrian Gonzalez would have gone into a game like the one he played on Saturday night with ideas of pulling the baseball or hitting it to the opposite field.
"Now," Gonzalez said, "I just try to hit it."
The simplified approach has resulted in a start for the ages for the four-time All-Star, who drove in three more runs in a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The win was the sixth in a row for the Dodgers, who moved into sole possession of first place in the National League West.
Gonzalez has contributed 14 runs batted in, the most in major leagues. He is batting .523, which is also the best in baseball.
His 23 hits equal Eric Karros' record for the most by a Dodgers player in the first 11 games of a season. Karros established the mark in 1995.
"Part of it is balls falling in the right places, too," Gonzalez said.
That was the case in the third inning, when Gonzalez grounded into what looked to be an inning-ending double play. But Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu made an errant throw to first base, which allowed the Dodgers to score a run that put them ahead, 2-1.
Gonzalez also had the fortune of batting a second time with the bases loaded. This time, in the fifth inning, he blasted a first-pitch fastball from starter Jordan Lyles past a diving Charlie Blackmon in left-center field.
The runner on first base, Yasiel Puig, was uncertain whether Blackmon would catch the ball, costing Gonzalez an extra-base hit. But two runs scored on the play and extended the Dodgers' lead to 4-1.
Gonzalez didn't get another hit, but helped the Dodgers score their final run by moving Puig from second base to third on a groundout to the right side of the infield in the seventh inning. Puig scored on a double by Howie Kendrick.
Gonzalez was one for four, making this game the first this season in which he didn't reach base at least two times.
"You try to stay focused, try to keep that good streak going, the same mentality, don't change a lot of what you're doing right, try to ride the wave as long as you can, ride the hot streak," he said.
Routine, rather than superstition, is what Gonzalez said he relies on to maintain whatever he's feeling at the plate.
"It has to do a lot with work in the cage, work in BP," he said. "I haven't really been trying to hit home runs in BP. I've just been trying to hit line drives up the middle. I think it's played out, especially when I've been facing lefties, where I've been hitting the ball up the middle, the other way, more than I did last year. Righties, they try to pound me in, I'm ready for the fastball, but my mentality's not pull. It's just be ready for the fastball. Stay with the mentality, keep it as simple as I can, because things are going well."
This wasn't always the case.
"Earlier I would have cared a lot about, 'Try to go the other way,' 'Try to pull the ball,' 'Try to do this, do that,' " he said.
By narrowing his focus, the left-handed-hitting first baseman said he can avoid being distracted by the defensive shifts he faces on a regular basis.
"People talk about shifts, but I could care less about shifts," he said. "I'm just trying to hit the ball hard."
Gonzalez, who turns 33 next month, said he has a better idea of what he can control and what he can't.
"I got to the point where I know that preparation is all that I can do," he said. "The game will take care of itself. If I prepare, I do all the work before the game right, the game, just enjoy it and have fun."