Thanks to the inviting presence of the Crawford Boxes in left field, Detroit's Jose Iglesias and Houston's Alex Bregman both homered on balls with exit velocities below 91 mph and hit probabilities below 10 percent on Wednesday.But there's also another side to Minute Maid Park, which former Astro J.D. Martinez
Thanks to the inviting presence of the Crawford Boxes in left field, Detroit's Jose Iglesias and Houston's Alex Bregman both homered on balls with exit velocities below 91 mph and hit probabilities below 10 percent on Wednesday.
But there's also another side to Minute Maid Park, which former Astro J.D. Martinez got a taste of on Thursday, in Houston's 7-6 victory. Even with the removal of Tal's Hill from center field before this season, Minute Maid Park can play big in certain situations.
While Martinez did pound an impressive 430-foot home run in the fourth inning, he had to settle for an unlikely double in the fifth -- on a ball that previously had proven to be a certain homer.
Bad fortune found Martinez when he launched a Mike Fiers pitch just to the right of center field with Jose Cabrera on first base and two outs. The ball had a 107.5-mph exit velocity and 26-degree launch angle, a combination that had produced a home run 100 percent of the time since the Statcast™ Era began in 2015.
Minute Maid Park changed that, as the ball hit the yellow top of the wall and bounced back, seemingly inches from Martinez's second homer of the game and eighth of the season. It was a double instead, with Cabrera holding at third, a ruling that was upheld upon review. Cabrera later scored on a Justin Upton single, but Martinez was stranded at third with Detroit trailing, 5-4.
With a projected distance of 425 feet, Martinez's drive was the third-longest not to result in a homer in Houston in the Statcast™ Era. In 2015, the Astros' Evan Gattis and George Springer hit shots of 428 feet and 426 feet, respectively, that couldn't clear Tal's Hill.
"I thought it was [headed out] when he hit it," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
Still, Martinez finished 2-for-4 with those two extra-base hits and now is batting .378 with a 1.513 OPS in 12 games this season after spending the first several weeks on the disabled list.
His solo blast in the fourth inning gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead and was the fourth of Martinez's career to come in an 0-2 count. When Fiers hung a curveball, Martinez connected at 105.3 mph and at a 36-degree angle, driving the ball onto the railroad tracks well above the wall in left-center field.
Ausmus thought the ballpark played a little different Thursday with the roof open.
"Generally, the ball carries a little bit better to left, left-center. I don't know if that [was] the case tonight or not. It looked like [the wind] was kind of swirling. A lot of the infielders and outfielders were having trouble tracking fly balls and popups. The wind was playing with them a little bit," he said.
Projected at 430 feet, it was Martinez's second-longest homer this season. Since his season debut on May 12, he is the only big leaguer to have three homers of 425 feet or farther.
If not for a bad break in his former home ballpark, that total would have climbed to four.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.