Mookie Betts’ recent rut is boding well for J.D. Martinez.
The Boston Red Sox fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Saturday in what was an overall disappointing and uninspired performance. In the loss, Betts went 0-for-4, while Martinez went 2-for-4. And with that, Martinez passed Betts for the American League lead in batting average.
Martinez now owns a .337 average, while Betts narrowly trails at .335. That means the Sox slugger now leads in two of the three categories needed to win the Triple Crown. In addition to average, Martinez also owns the RBI lead, currently besting Oakland A’s star Khris Davis 110-103. But Davis has more homers than Martinez, outclassing him 39-38 at the moment.
Betts long has had a stronghold on batting average, but a skid that’s seen him hit .147 over his last eight games has caused his numbers to dip far enough for Martinez to surpass it.
Thanks in part to Betts’ ability to get on base, Martinez has led the league in RBIs pretty much wire-to-wire. Martinez also regularly has led in homers, with Davis just recently passing him in the measure. Otherwise, it often has been dueling dingers between Martinez and Cleveland Indians slugger Jose Ramirez for the lead.
It’s become pretty clear that Martinez isn’t overly enamored with individual accolades, rather his numbers being a means to an end. But he is showing no signs of slowing down and as such his case to win the coveted honor — which last was claimed by Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera in 2012 — is getting increasingly compelling by the game.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Red Sox-Rays game:
— With Saturday’s loss, the Red Sox now have no chance at winning the three-game series. That’s been a fairly rare occurrence for Boston, seeing as the last time they lost a series was the June 29-July 1 three-game set against the New York Yankees.
But the loss puts the Red Sox in a somewhat precarious position, as they now have fallen in five of their last seven and own just a seven-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.
— It wasn’t a sterling showing for Red Sox pitching, as three of Boston’s four hurlers allowed runs.
Stater Rick Porcello was tagged for three runs. Two of the runs Porcello allowed were runners he left for Ryan Brasier in the sixth that the reliever allowed to score. In addition, Brandon Workman gave up a solo shot in the seventh and Tyler Thornburg surrendered an RBI triple in the eighth.
Not that Boston has been too well-rounded so far this series, but the pitching has been particularly appalling.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images