The Boston Red Sox got J.D. Martinez back in their lineup on Friday when they took on the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Martinez, who tripped on second base returning to his outfield post during the season finale against the Washington Nationals on Sunday, missed both ALDS Game 1 and the Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees with an ankle injury. Yet he was back Friday, batting sixth and occupying the designated hitter spot.
He made his presence felt, notably with a huge, go-ahead, three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning.
Martinez's long ball was one of five homers the Red Sox hit in a 14-6 win to even the series. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Rays answered in the bottom half with a five-run inning against Chris Sale, headlined by a Jordan Luplow grand slam. The Red Sox then got back-to-back home runs from Xander Bogearts and Alex Verdugo in the third inning to close the gap a bit and then Enrique Hernandez went deep to lead off the fifth to tie the game.
The shot by Martinez gave the Red Sox a steak of six unanswered runs. They were shut out in Game 1. The offensive onslaught never really let up. The Red Sox scored runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, ending with 14 runs on 20 hits, including a franchise postseason record five homers.
Martinez went 4 for 5 with a double, homer, three RBI and run scored. Not a bad return, huh?
Martinez, 34 years old, hit .286/.349/.518 (126 OPS+) with 28 home runs, 42 doubles, and 99 runs batted in during the regular season. His total contributions were estimated to be worth three Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference's calculations.
During Martinez's absence, the Red Sox tasked Kyle Schwarber with playing DH and had Bobby Dalbec at first base. Schwarber shifted to first base for Game 2, with Dalbec sitting on the bench until he pinch hit late. As has been on display in Game 2, the Red Sox are simply a different lineup with productive J.D. Martinez in the middle of it.
In other Red Sox news, they removed right-hander Garrett Richards from the roster before Game 2 because of a hamstring strain. Matt Barnes, who spent time at closer for the Red Sox earlier this season, has been added in Richards' place. It's worth noting that if the Red Sox advance, Richards would have to sit out the next series.
2021 MLB postseason gear now available
The 2021 MLB Playoffs are here. In celebration, 2021 MLB postseason gear is now available for select teams. Shop hoodies, shirts, and more here.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.