J.D. Martinez certainly made his presence felt in his big return Friday.
After notably missing the Red Sox’s first two postseason games due to a sprained ankle suffered in the regular season finale, Martinez returned to the lineup in Boston’s American League Division Series-tying 14-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays without missing a step.
Martinez finished the night 4-for-5 and contributed arguably the most important hit of the contest with a three-run blast in the fifth inning to put the Red Sox back in front — they wouldn’t look back from there.
As good as Martinez was Friday night, he didn’t know for sure if he would be able to take the field until close to game time.
“Yesterday during (batting practice) it was still biting at me, today during BP it felt a lot better. I felt a lot more confident and I told Alex,” Martinez told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Fox Sports’ postgame coverage. “Yesterday I didn’t feel like I had a chance, today I felt like I could at least go up there and put competitive at-bats together.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora had only positive things to say about Martinez and the training staff as a whole after the win.
“Credit to the medical staff, they’ve been relentless since Sunday. Of course he works hard to get to this point, but what they did the last 48 hours to make him feel confident to play is a testament to who they are,” Cora said after the win. “Those guys work so hard, countless hours, and it’s been nonstop. All the credit goes to them and of course (Martinez).”
Martinez and the Red Sox will look to carry over the momentum on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park with an all-important 2-to-1 game series lead on the line.