BALTIMORE — That we’re even having a Triple Crown discussion during the second week of August is a testament to the season J.D. Martinez is having.
His first year with the Red Sox has been nothing short of sensational, and the latest milestone was achieved in Friday’s 19-12 slugfest against the Orioles. Martinez drove in his 100th and 101st runs on a single through the left side in the top of the eighth inning, reaching the century mark in his 110th game. Coupled with his 35 home runs, Martinez became the first Boston player to reach the 30-100 standards in his first season with the club since David Ortiz in 2003.
“That’s a season for really good hitters,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Obviously RBI are, for some people, just people getting on base. But you still have to drive them in.”
Martinez will have 43 games to add to his numbers down the stretch, as he makes a twin assault on Ortiz and Manny Ramirez among recent Red Sox sluggers. Ortiz finished with 31 homers and 101 RBI in 2003, numbers already eclipsed by Martinez in 30 fewer plate appearances. Ramirez enjoyed his best two seasons in 2002 (1.097 OPS) and 2005 (45 homers, 144 RBI), all numbers Martinez could put in jeopardy in 2018 alone.
“In an era where guys hit .210 with 40 (homers) and they drive in 75, I know teams will take that because of the production, the damage,” Cora said. “For him to do damage and also be that type of hitter, it’s pretty impressive.”
Martinez entered Saturday's doubleheader with a .332 batting average, trailing only teammate Mookie Betts (.352) in the American League. Therein lies a bit of a conflict for Cora, who hopes both of his lineup cornerstones continue to produce at their current pace. That would prevent Martinez from joining Miguel Cabrera (2012) as the lone Triple Crown winners since Boston legend Carl Yastrzemski turned the trick in 1967.
“You know who’s leading the league in hitting,” Cora said. “I would love him to win the Triple Crown, but if he wins the batting title, that means the other guy got into a slump. I like it the way it is right now, honestly. But it is impressive.”
On a hot streak
Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed a pair of home runs a combined 820 feet in Saturday’s day game, the third game of his career in which the center fielder has hit multiple round-trippers.
It continued the upward trend at the plate Bradley has enjoyed since early July. He’s totaled 15 extra-base hits over his last 26 games, including a double and a triple in Friday’s 19-12 victory against the Orioles.
“Trying to improve and trying to execute,” Bradley said. “I feel like I’ve been missing my pitch that I can handle a little too often throughout the year. It feels good to actually not miss today.”
Bradley had an .833 OPS over his last 25 games going into Saturday, a number that stretched over the season would rank squarely in the middle of the Red Sox regulars.
“He’s hitting the ball in the air,” Cora said. “As far as power, he’s up there with the big guys of this team. He’s got a lot of power.”
Bradley last went deep twice in a game in May 2016, roughing up Oakland pitchers Eric Surkamp and Zach Neal. His first two-homer game in the big leagues came against Seattle in August 2015, with Felix Hernandez and catcher Jesus Sucre serving as the victims. Sucre was summoned to mop up in a 22-10 Red Sox demolition of the Mariners.
Drew Pomeranz pitched one inning and earned his first victory of the season out of the bullpen on Friday and pronounced himself available for either game on Saturday.
The left-hander hasn’t made any waves since being dropped from the starting rotation last week. Pomeranz is hoping to rediscover his mechanics down the stretch for what could be a final chance to impress before he hits free agency this offseason.
“He understands,” Cora said. “He’s been around the game for a long, long time. Like I told him, he’s very important for us. Regardless of the role, he’s very important for what we’re trying to accomplish.”
It was the 59th career appearance for Pomeranz as a reliever, a role in which he’s been successful in previous stops with Colorado and Oakland. Pomeranz holds opposing hitters to a .543 OPS out of the bullpen, totaling a 3.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s pitched to a .711 OPS and a 2.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 111 career starts.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25