Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez saw his 51-game on-base steak at home come to an end on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
A rare off day for J.D. Martinez resulted in an 0-for-3 performance on Sunday, thus snapping one of the more impressive streaks in recent Boston Red Sox history.
Entering the day, Martinez had reached base safely in 51 consecutive home games. Ted Williams (69 games in 1941) and Joe Foy (54 in 1966) are the only hitters in franchise history with longer on-base streaks at Fenway Park.
Martinez will have to settle for third on that list after the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff kept him off the bases in all three of his plate appearances. The right-handed slugger was waiting on deck in the bottom of the ninth inning when pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland struck out to end the game. If only one more batter had reached safely to give Martinez another chance! Not only would he get one more shot at extending the streak, Martinez would have represented the tying run in a game the Red Sox ended up dropping 2-0.
This game also serves as further evidence as to why Martinez should be hitting third instead of in the cleanup spot. It may not seem like much but the further you drop down the order the fewer plate appearances you receive over the course of a season.
Martinez wasn’t the only Red Sox hitter struggling at the plate. Boston managed a mere two hits against a Rays team managing one of their signature bullpen games. Adding insult to injury, left-hander Jalen Beeks shut down the powerful Red Sox lineup over four innings. Boston shipped Beeks to Tampa Bay in the Nathan Eovoldi deal last month, adding a bit of the revenge narrative to his performance.
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This was only one tough game in an otherwise extraordinary season for Martinez. The prized free agent acquisition has been worth every cent, leading the majors with 38 home runs and 106 RBI while inserting himself into the MVP conversation.
As great as he’s been overall, Martinez has been at his best at Fenway. He’s hitting .350/.419/.751 with 22 home runs over 217 at-bats at home this season. To put his recently snapped streak in perspective, Martinez hadn’t played a home game without reaching base via a hit or walk since April 12 against the New York Yankees. That was over four months ago!
Martinez has been heating up even more since the All-Star break, hitting .355 with a 1.198 OPS. This is becoming reminiscent of his scorching second half last year when he led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the postseason. Boston has essentially locked in their spot in the postseason already but the red-hot Martinez can help them clinch the best record in the majors down the stretch.
The on-base streak may be over but as well as Martinez has been hitting this year we can bank on a new streak beginning very soon.