Napoli remains a thorn in Angels' side

Slugger, who played for club from 2006-10, hits two homers off Wilson

Napoli remains a thorn in Angels' side

BOSTON -- Mike Napoli, perpetual Angels nuisance, has done it again.

This time it was two home runs on Saturday night at Fenway Park. This time it came against C.J. Wilson, the one-time teammate he briefly clashed with on social media.

"My numbers against Nap are, I'd say, good overall," Wilson said after the Angels' 8-3 loss to the Red Sox. "That was an anomaly tonight, to give up two home runs."

Napoli entered 6-for-31 in his career against Wilson, with a home run, 10 strikeouts, three walks and three hit-by-pitches.

But with two outs and none on in the second, Wilson's full-count fastball traveled too far inside and Napoli sent it two rows into the Monster seats to put the Red Sox on the board. And with two outs and one on in the sixth, Wilson's 3-1 curveball hung over the middle of the plate and Napoli cleared the entire stadium toward left-center field, turning a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 Red Sox lead.

"I was trying to keep it backdoor at best, try to keep it below the zone and see if he chased," Wilson said. "It's one of those rare instances where I'm actually trying to bounce the ball and I can't."

And one of several instances when the Angels are trying to contain Napoli and can't.

The 33-year-old catcher-turned-first-baseman spent his first five years with the Angels, often chafing under the tutelage of manager Mike Scioscia. The Angels sent him to the Blue Jays in the Vernon Wells trade of January 2011, then the Blue Jays flipped him to the Rangers four days later.

Since then, Napoli has batted .327 (53-for-162) with 17 homers and 32 RBIs in 46 games against his former team.

"I don't know what it is," Napoli said. "It just happens. Guys have teams that they do that against, and it's the Angels that happens to be it. I don't know. I try to do good every game no matter what. Just happens to happen that way."

Napoli played with Wilson on the Rangers team that reached a second consecutive World Series in 2011, catching nine of Wilson's starts. Then Wilson signed with the Angels, heard Napoli say he couldn't wait to take his new division rival deep and tweeted Napoli's phone number on social media, for all of his followers to see.

Wilson described it as "a prank" back then, but Napoli, irked, said, "We don't have that type of relationship."

Napoli was reminded of that on Saturday.

"That was a long time ago," he said.

"I just had a good night," Napoli added. "I feel better at the plate. You know, he has good stuff. It was nice to be able to do that tonight."

Wilson rolled his eyes when asked about his relationship with Napoli.

"What does that have to do with anything?" he said. "We only played together for one year, so it's not like we know each other very well. … I'd say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field."

Napoli had been scuffling all year, right along with the rest of his Red Sox teammates. His batting average was stuck at .178 entering the weekend series, with four homers and 34 strikeouts in 36 games. Then he homered three times in two games.

The Angels must be in town.

"He was really locked in tonight," Wilson said. "This is the guy [the last two nights] who's more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus in Texas, not the guy who's on the scoreboard hitting [.180] or whatever it is. Everybody has their slumps, but he's obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the season."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.