Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez crushed a milestone home run
Thursday night’s game was a back and forth affair that saw the Boston Red Sox trailing 7-5 entering the final frame. The Toronto Blue Jays had a 95% win probability as late as the bottom of the 8th. It all came down to the 9th for Boston.
Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis each singled to start the 9th. After Kike Hernandez struck out, the runners were moved into scoring position via a groundout by Alex Verdugo. This brought J.D. Martinez up to the plate with two outs in the inning and the game on the line.
J.D. is not stranger to clutch situations. Entering last night he’d been in that exact situation 68 times in his career, his team trailing in the 9th inning or later with two outs. In these situations he’s slashing .323/.353/.569 with 4 homers and 4 doubles. If there’s anyone on the team I want at the plate in this situation, it’s Martinez.
Like the geyser out in Yellowstone, J.D. “Old Faithful’ Martinez erupted right on cue. With one swing of the bat Martinez turned a two run deficit into a 1-run lead by launching a 402-foot shot to right center.
Martinez was fired up as he rounded the bases, an uncharacteristic outburst of emotions. He was back to his humble, all-business self after the game saying (per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald)
"“Obviously, my job is to hit and to drive in runs,” Martinez said. “Those situations, the team’s depending on me to go up there and put a good at-bat together and hit the ball hard. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. All I can control is my preparation and doing all the work and getting ready for that at-bat, really. The rest is up for chance, really.”"
The homer marked a milestone for Martinez, as the 250th of his career. Martinez is the 235th player in baseball history to reach that milestone and is tied with Andrew McCutchen on the all-time leaderboard. Many of the players ahead of Martinez on the list had the benefit of playing hundreds, if not thousands, more games.
Adjusting the home run leaderboard for their first 1165 games played (Martinez’ career total after last night), he ranks alongside some all-time greats. Two Red Sox legends, Ted Williams and David Ortiz, notched 259 and 256 respectively at that point in their careers. Lou Gehrig belted 255. Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, the No. 2 player on the career home run leaderboard, had just one more home run, 251, to this point in his career. Aaron would go on to play over 2,000 more games and wallop over 500 more home runs. Aaron also had a head start on Martinez, playing in his 1165th career game at age 27. Martinez didn’t cross that threshold until age 33. J.D. would have to play well into his 40’s or crank up his production to record setting numbers every season to reach Aaron.
While the top of all-time list is likely out of reach, I do think Martinez has a real shot at the 500-HR club if he can continue producing in the DH role for years to come.
Upcoming for the Red Sox is NL East week. The Red Sox head to Philadelphia for the weekend to square off against the Phillies before returning home next week to take on the Braves and Marlins. All three of those teams currently have a .500 or worse record and give the Red Sox a chance to get some breathing room atop the AL East Standings where they currently hold a one-game lead over the Rays.