“Russ has been in, what, 26 postseasons?” Freese cracked.
Not quite. Martin is playing in his 10th postseason. His latest October began with two hits, two runs scored and four RBIs in the Dodgers’ 10-4 win over the Nationals, giving Los Angeles a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Martin has played in October for the Dodgers, the Yankees, the Pirates, the Blue Jays and now the Dodgers again.
When he made his postseason debut as a 23-year-old for the Dodgers in 2006, Gavin Lux was a month away from his ninth birthday. Lux started at second base for the Dodgers on Sunday.
“I'm definitely calmer now,” Martin said. “I've always been an intense baseball player and just a person in general, but I think now I just know how to take a deep breath. I had a lot of yoga classes in between those games and now.”
Martin started Game 3 over rookie catcher Will Smith because the numbers say Martin is a perfect pairing for Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who turned in five innings of two-run ball. It was in the sixth inning that Martin started producing with the bat. His two-run double gave the Dodgers the lead in what became a seven-run scoring outburst.
Three innings later, Martin added a two-run homer, the sixth of his career in the postseason.
“What he's done for our entire group, namely the young catchers, just the entire group of ballplayers -- his insight, his experience, and now you talk about when he does get an opportunity to play,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He's got some big hits for us this year, none bigger than the one tonight [for the lead]. But a lot of that is experience. Just for him to be an extension of me, the coaching staff and the other veterans is a big reason why we are here.”
Martin began the year as the backup to primary catcher Austin Barnes and, when Barnes didn’t pan out, served as the backup to Smith. Most of his work came in a battery with Ryu, who logged a 1.52 ERA in 20 games with Martin as his catcher.
What Martin did with the bat Sunday night was something of a bonus.
“Any time you're in the postseason it's great,” Martin said. “The energy, everything is magnified.”
Freese knows the feeling. And he contributed with the bat on Sunday himself, coming off the bench to log three hits, including a single in the game-breaking rally. The last player to collect three hits off the bench in the postseason was catcher Johnny Blanchard of the 1960 Yankees in Game 6 of the World Series.
“It’s just having composure,” Freese said. “Keeping things simple. Calming yourself at all times. Understanding the crowd is going to be there. And just kind of enjoy it. I like this time of year. During the season, it’s a grind. It’s long and it speeds up on you sometimes. But October is fun -- not to say the regular season isn’t.”