J.D. Martinez is heating up for the Boston Red Sox, and he played a key role in the team's 11-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
Martinez went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, four RBI and two walks. He extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely to 26.
Over the last 15 days, Martinez is batting .289 with four homers, 16 RBI, 11 walks, 11 runs scored and a .414 on-base percentage.
What's fueling Martinez's latest surge?
“It starts with controlling the strike zone right?,” Cora told reporters in his postgame press conference. “At one point there, he only had one walk in 70 at-bats. He started getting his walks, he started driving the ball to right field.
"He’s still probably the most respected hitter in our lineup. The opposition, they see him, and it’s still J.D. Martinez. For him to take his walks -- he had some great at-bats. Even the one with the home run, he check-swings and it’s a foul ball. He fouled pitches off, gets a good pitch and drives it to right-center. That’s who J.D. is. I’m just glad that he is who he is. He’s relentless. It doesn't matter the score. You saw the last at-bat. He's not going to give an at-bat away. He's going to keep grinding. He's in a good groove right now."
Martinez struggled last season, finishing with a .213 batting average, seven home runs and 27 RBI in 54 games. His return to a top-tier slugger in 2021 has helped fuel a Red Sox offense that ranks at or near the top of many offensive statistics.
The middle of the Red Sox lineup has a bunch of good hitters, with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Martinez making up one of the most fearsome trios for opposing pitchers.
If the Red Sox are going to return to the playoffs and compete for another World Series title, they'll likely need Martinez to maintain his consistency and keep driving in runs at a high rate.