J.D. Martinez explains why no at-bat is meaningless

Rob Bradford
May 13, 2019 - 7:31 pm

The feeling by the time J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate in the eighth inning Sunday was seemingly universal: Let's get this over with already.

The Red Sox were in complete command in their series finale against the Mariners, carrying a 9-2 lead with the rain continuing to pelt down on a 40-degree late afternoon. Seattle had certainly played a team with one foot on the plane all day long, and now it was time to oblige their quest to leave town. Plus, the Bruins were playing.

But Martinez had other ideas.

When the Red Sox outfielder stepped into the batter's box you couldn't tell if it was a tied game in the World Series or this meaningless moment in early May. Same routine. Same approach. It was a microcosm of what makes Martinez the hitter he is.

The at-bat's first pitch, a changeup from Seattle's Mike Wright, would be launched over the left field wall 387 feet from home plate.

"The last one was kind of weird because I feel like he never throws changeups and he threw a changeup so I just reacted to it, saw it and it went," Martinez explained on the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network's Postgame Show when asked about the second of his two homers on the day.

The attention to detail was both noteworthy and succinct. As it turned out, it was just the fifth changeup Wright had thrown all year.

So, why the focus? Martinez has a plausible explanation.

"I talk about it all the time. You play 162 games so let’s say 100 of them come down to the end where you see the game is out of reach one way or the other," he said. "I feel like the other 62 are close games so you’re going to be into those at-bats. If you do that, that’s 100 at-bats. That’s almost a month worth of at-bats where you’re not as focused as you might be in those 62. That really changes a season. That’s a difference for me in having a good year and a great year."