Boston Red Sox star J.D. Martinez keeps piling up extra-base hits
The hottest hitter in baseball will not be held down by a cold. J.D. Martinez was held out of Saturday’s game due to experiencing cold symptoms but returned to the Boston Red Sox lineup for the finale of the weekend series in Baltimore after clearing the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Martinez picked up right where he left off by reminding the league that he’s an extra-base hitting machine.
Immediately after Alex Verdugo put the Red Sox on the board with a three-run homer, Martinez went back-to-back with a solo shot to the opposite field. The 372-foot shot was fired down the right field line with an exit velocity of 105.2 mph.
Martinez has now collected at least one extra-base hit in all eight games that he’s appeared in this season. He joins Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sandy Alomar Jr. as the only major league hitters to begin a season with an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games, per Alex Speier of The Boston Globe. Martinez will have the chance to make history by becoming the first major league player to extend that streak to nine games when the Red Sox travel to Minnesota to face the Twins on Monday.
Last season was a nightmare for Martinez when he hit a meager .213 with a .680 OPS and 23 extra-base hits in 54 games. As miserable as the year was, Martinez ended it on a high note with a home run in the final game of the season.
Dating back to last season, Martinez now has an extra-base hit in nine consecutive games, tying a franchise record shared by Ted Williams (1939), Butch Hobson (1977), Bill Mueller (2003), and David Ortiz (2004 & 2013).
Whether it was the interruption to his routine, the lack of in-game video or a problem with the mechanics of his swing, it’s clear that the issues leading to last year’s baffling slump are behind Martinez.
He took a break from going for extra bases, settling for a single to drive in a run in the fifth inning and chase Orioles starter Jorge Lopez from the game.
In case that wasn’t enough, Martinez added another opposite field solo shot in the sixth inning. It was his first multi-home run game since August 23, 2019. His third RBI of the game moved him into the major league lead in that category with 15 this season.
Martinez raised his batting average to a blistering .471 with that third hit of the game. He might not be done doing damage in Baltimore as the Red Sox have already piled up ten runs with a few innings left to play.
Even if he doesn’t add to his collection of hits this afternoon, Martinez is showing no signs of slowing down. He’s taking out last year’s frustration on opposing pitching staffs and doing more than anyone could have expected to make his doubters forget about 2020.