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J.D. Martinez: Playoffs will be completely different

Rob Bradford
August 23, 2018 - 5:32 pm

A case could be made that there was something to be gained from the Red Sox' split of their four-game series against the Indians.

Take, for instance, the at-bats against Indians reliever Adam Cimber.

The sidewinding righty was pivotal in Cleveland's first two wins of the series, coming on to get Xander Bogaerts to ground out into a double play in Game 1 and then managing to induce groundouts off the bats of Ian Kinsler and Eduardo Nunez in the second game. On both occasions, the at-bats represented pivotal moments in what would be a pair of Cleveland wins.

Thursday, Cimber wasn't so fortunate. Bogaerts' bounced a game-changing, two-run double down the left field line upon meeting up with the reliever, with Nunez following with a first-pitch, two-run double against the former Padre. Introductions were made and adjustments followed. (For a complete recap of the latest Red Sox win, click here.)

So, does that mean that this four-day get-together is going to help the Red Sox' familiarize themselves with a potential postseason opponent? Don't tell that to J.D. Martinez.

"It definitely gives you a look so you kind of have an idea of what they’ve got. It doesn’t hurt. It’s not the do-all, tell-all. When you get to the playoffs it’s a different feel. That’s different," he explained. When asked why if the pitchers and hitters are still offering the same skill-set it's so different Martinez responded with a question of his own.

"If you go to a playoff game in Fenway and you walk in, and you walk into a regular season game is it not different?" he noted. Martinez then added, "Pitchers aren’t different. You get to the atmosphere is different. That changes everything. Home-court advantage in baseball or football, what’s different? Nothing changes (on the field) but the atmosphere changes."

So, in Martinez's eyes, does the atmosphere impact how the players actually react?

"One hundred percent," he said. "If it didn’t change there wouldn’t be any home field advantage. It’s the same thing (as the other professional sports). The stadium is still 100 yards. The basket is still there. The field goal posts are the same. Everything is the same. The difference is the atmosphere which changes everything."

The perfect example of what Martinez was relaying came in the 2016 American League Division Series, where a bunch of first-time postseason participants on the Red Sox were clearly affected by the raucous Cleveland crowd, a reality they would later admit. And even with a year of experience under their belt, trying to play catch up in Houston last postseason was no easy task.

It was a reality Martinez was introduced as a member of the Tigers, heading into Camden Yards to play the Orioles.

"When the lights go on in the playoffs you get a little bit more nervous. The situation changes, which changes everything," he said. "Everything changes. You’re playing with something on the line and the pressure … Everything changes."