It hasn’t been the most notable second half of the season for Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, but when Boston needed a Wednesday it was his bat and Nathan Eovaldi’s arm which led them to it.
Martinez hit what eventually turned out to be the game-winning solo home run in the second inning of an eventual 6-0 shutout against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. The All-Star designated hitter then delivered a much-needed two-run double to left field in the sixth inning. It extended Boston’s lead to 3-0 with Eovaldi dealing a scoreless six frames.
And while it was the first three-hit game by Martinez since Sept. 6 — a period in which he was .259 at the plate with just six extra-base hits — manager Alex Cora knew a night like Wednesday was coming soon.
“He doesn’t deviate from what he does as far as preparation and his swing, and today was a great day,” Cora said after the win. “He did an amazing job. Obviously the homer and the rest of the at-bats. It seems like seeing him in the dugout and throughout the game he was pretty locked in. We had the big boys do their thing. We’re a very offensive team, we’re a lot better when the big boys are swinging the bat.”
It was especially welcome after the Red Sox mustered just three hits in a loss Tuesday during the series opener.
“We put some pressure on them. We had a lot of traffic early on, but we didn?t cash in,” Cora said. “J.D. had a great game. We did a lot of good things. … Overall actually a pretty good game.”
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Orioles:
— The aforementioned Eovaldi rebounded in a big way Wednesday after one of his worst starts of the season. The right-hander went six scoreless innings with four hits and seven strikeouts. He struck out the side in the second, too.
“Yeah, I made the mechanical adjustments I felt like I needed to make,” Eovaldi said. “I felt like I was able to command the zone tonight ? The only pitch I felt like wasn’t great tonight was the slider so if I got four of the five pitches working it’s a good recipe for me.”
— Martinez recorded the furthest home run of his Red Sox tenure Wednesday as he sent a no-doubter 444 feet to straightaway center field.
“I’ve been feeling off-and-on, off-and-on, off-and-on,” Martinez said. “I’m hoping I can carry what I was feeling today and do it as long as I can.”
— The Red Sox won and Yankees lost, meaning Boston closed the gap to one game for the first spot in the American League Wild Card. Boston continues to hold a one-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays for the second spot with the Seattle Mariners entering their game Wednesday night a half game back of Boston.
“We all know where we’re at. That’s why it’s important to come here tomorrow and play a full game and win it,” Cora said. “We know tomorrow someone is going to lose there (Yankees-Blue Jays) and we don’t want to lose ground on them. Obviously we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but put together a good game tomorrow, and win the series is very important for us.”