Boston Red Sox right fielder J.D. Martinez had nothing but excuses for hit botched play on a routine pop-up that cost his team two runs.
Saturday was a rough day for J.D. Martinez in the outfield. The Boston Red Sox were facing their arch-rivals from New York but Martinez’ greatest nemesis was… the sun.
The Red Sox pitching staff held a powerful Yankees lineup scoreless through the opening three frames but the game got away from them in the fourth inning when a pair of Martinez miscues opened the floodgates.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was given the day off with the Yankees starting lefty J.A. Happ. That shifted Mookie Betts over to center and inserted Martinez in right field. It would soon become clear why Martinez is usually a designated hitter.
Martinez lost a line-drive double off the bat of Didi Gregorius in the sun. Instead of two outs with a runner on first base, the Yankees had two runners in scoring position with only one out.
Gary Sanchez followed with a pop-up in shallow right field. Martinez and Brock Holt both chased after the fly ball yet neither seemed to realize where it was. The ball would end up falling between the two defenders, bouncing into the stands for a ground rule double that drove in two runs.
Holt was a bit closer to where the ball landed but he clearly didn’t realize how close and it’s a far more difficult play for him racing back from his spot in the infield. The outfielder needs to take control in that situation and call for it. Martinez slowed up at the last moment, assuming Holt had it.
According to MassLive’s Christoper Smith, Martinez explained to reporters after the game that he felt Holt had a better read on the ball and he didn’t want to “scare him” by charging toward the play. He also pointed out how far he had to run on the play since he was shifted toward left-center field with the right-handed Sanchez at the plate.
The excuses only got more bizarre from there.
“I don’t care if you’re a DH or an outfielder, unless your Superman and you have X-ray vision against sun— I don’t know,” Martinez said. “If someone could see through the sun, I guess they catch it. It was a tough play.”
Wait, so Superman can stare into the sun and still see perfectly fine because he has X-ray vision? I’m not sure that’s how that particular ability (hypothetically) works.
Look, it’s not uncommon for baseball players to lose the ball in the sun. It happens during day games, regardless of if they are wearing sunglasses. The late-afternoon start time meant shadows covered portions of the field and the sun beamed in from various angles that change throughout the game.
“It’s terrible,” complained Martinez. “This place, 4 o’clock game is the worst. One the worst I’ve seen with the shadows in the outfield and hitting and right field. You pray for clouds pretty much.”
It was a tough play. Martinez’ weird explanation about his lack of superpowers putting him at a disadvantage makes his words come off as an excuse though. Especially on the heels of his explanation for why he deferred to Holt on the play.
Neither play was ruled an error since Martinez never got a glove on the ball but his pair of miscues changed the game. Sanchez drove in the first two runs of the game with his bloop double and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a two-run home to double the lead. If Martinez makes both plays, the side is retired before Encarnacion steps to the plate. Even if you assume he still homers in his next at-bat, at least it would have been a solo shot to lead off the next inning.
Martinez tried to make up for his defensive lapses with a home run in the ninth inning, plating Boston’s only run in a 5-1 loss. It was too little, too late.
This game perfectly symbolized Martinez’ role with this team. He’s still as dangerous as they come with a bat in his hands but he’s a liability with his glove. His playing time in the outfield needs to be limited – especially during day games when he may need to deal with his old foe in the sky.