BOSTON -- The master of launch angle, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, had become quite annoyed in recent days by the fact he kept pounding the ball into the ground.But Martinez finally gave his tenure in Boston the lift off he had been waiting for, clubbing a towering solo homer
BOSTON -- The master of launch angle, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, had become quite annoyed in recent days by the fact he kept pounding the ball into the ground.
But Martinez finally gave his tenure in Boston the lift off he had been waiting for, clubbing a towering solo homer over the Green Monster in left-center as part of a 10-3 victory over the Rays on Saturday at Fenway Park.
The long ball was the first for Martinez since signing a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox, a drought that included Spring Training.
"That really didn't get into my head. What was getting into my head was the fact that I wasn't hitting the ball in the air," Martinez said. "I preach about getting the ball in the air. Whenever you see me and I'm hitting ground ball after ground ball, you know I'm not feeling right. Today, just to get the two balls in the air, it was definitely rewarding for me."
The first one Martinez spoke of was a sacrifice fly to deep right-center in the first that came a few feet from being a grand slam. Xander Bogaerts would take care of that an inning later.
But the early deep fly and RBI felt good for Martinez, giving him something to build off later in the game.
Facing right-handed reliever Chaz Roe to open the seventh, Martinez got a 2-1 fastball he liked and absolutely destroyed it.
The homer had an exit velocity of 109.4 mph with a projected distance of 420 feet. It was the kind of drive Martinez regularly hit for the Tigers and D-backs last season, when he set a career high with 45 home runs.
"That was a good one," Bogaerts said. "It was pretty loud. I was hitting behind him, so it sounded really loud, and it was great to see him get going."
Though Martinez is known for his ability to hit the ball to the opposite field, Saturday's moonshot showed that he will have no problem taking aim at the inviting Green Monster.
When Martinez returned to the dugout after rounding the bases, he received the silent treatment from his teammates.
"I kind of figured they were going to do something," Martinez said. "They've kind of been messing with me the last couple of days. It was cool."
When teams are winning, players can bust chops with the star slugger for being in a home run drought. Martinez appears to be having a blast in his new environment.
"[My] thoughts on this team? Composed. Relaxed. Chilling. Hanging out," Martinez said. "Everybody is hungry. Everyone just goes out and plays. This is a very loose team, a loose clubhouse. I think [manager] Alex [Cora] does a great job of that. We're 7-1 but it really doesn't feel like we're 7-1. It just feels like we're playing baseball right now."
And if Martinez is ready to start belting the baseball in the air on a consistent basis again, the Red Sox will be even harder to stop.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.