BOSTON (CBS) — In need of some oomph in the middle of the lineup, the Red Sox brought in J.D. Martinez this offseason to crush baseballs.
A quarter of the way into the season, he hasn’t disappointed.
Martinez destroyed another baseball in Wednesday night’s 6-4 win over the Oakland Athletics, launching a Trevor Cahill changeup to deep center field. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 106.4 mph, according to MLB Statcast, going an estimated 422 feet before it bounced back onto the field.
Martinez has been on an absolute tear as of late, with Wednesday night’s blast being his third homer in four games and seventh in the last 14 games. He’s reached base in 21 straight games, and is now slashing .344/.395/.644 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 41 games this season.
“I mean, I have a cue that I’m riding right now, so I’m kind of just riding that out right now and it kind of seems to be working,” Martinez said after the win.
Martinez’s lovely swing looks tailor-made for Fenway Park, and he’s taking advantage of playing in Boston. He’s hitting .371 with six of his homers and 20 RBIs at home this season.
“I’ve always kind of liked it,” Martinez said of Fenway, where he’s hit .392 with a .660 slugging percentage for his career. “I wish right field was a little closer, but that’s part of it. Like I said at the beginning when everybody asked me about the Green Monster and what am I going to do with the wall. I’m going to do me. I’m not going to worry about that wall. That’s a trap, I feel like.”
As for that much-needed clout in the heart of the order, Martinez has been exactly what the doctored ordered. After finishing at the bottom of the MLB barrel in runs scored last season, the Red Sox are second in the majors in runs per game, trailing only the powerhouse New York Yankees. They ranked dead last in the American League in homers in 2017; this year they’re tied for second with 59 dingers, trailing only the Cleveland Indians (64 homers).
The Red Sox waited until late in the offseason to sign Martinez. The slugger has been well worth that wait, and the five-year, $110 million contract so far.