We’ve Been Here Before: J.D. Martinez 2nd Man with 4 Home Runs in a Game

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, Sept. 5.

It was less than 3 months ago when I sat at this desk and wrote of Scooter Gennett hitting 4 home runs as the Reds wiped out the Cardinals 13-1.  Last night, it was J.D. Martinez taking his turn as the D-Backs slammed the Dodgers 13-0.  Martinez became the 18th man in MLB to hit 4 home runs in a game and the first to do so for the D-Backs.

On a day front-loaded with day baseball, Martinez’ feat took place while most of the nation slept.  The Dodgers’ 10:10 PM start was the latest in the game yesterday and Martinez hit his 4th home run of the night in the 9th inning. He had come close to this page in baseball history before.  When he played for the Tigers in 2015 he hit 3 home runs  in a game at Yankee Stadium and had a chance in the 9th but couldn’t pull it off. The Dodgers’ Wilmer Font may never be known for anything else, but he was the man to serve up Martinez’ 4th meatball.  The first came off Rich Hill in the 4th inning.  The last 3 took place in the game’s last 3 innings.

What may be forgotten is the performance D-Backs starter Robbie Ray put on.  He was perfect through 5 and struck out 14 Dodgers before the night was done. The visitors only got 2 runs off starter Rich Hill during his 6 innings before feasting on the Dodgers’ bull pen from the 7th inning on.  Brandon Drury and Adam Rosales also went deep for Arizona.  Martinez’ second shot and Drury’s home run came off Pedro Baez, the first hapless Dodger reliever.  He didn’t get a man out and left after 4 batters.  Josh Fields turned out also to be serving up cookies, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs. Font pitched the 9th giving up 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk.   He hadn’t pitched in the bigs in 4 years and yesterday’s outing put the 27-year-old Venezuelan’s name in lights for a reason he wouldn’t care to think of. Earlier in the year he was the starting pitcher in the AAA All-Star game.

The D-Backs have now won 11 in a row while the Dodgers have won just a game in their last 10. The last season when two men hit 4 homers in a game was in 2002 when Shawn Green and Mike Cameron pulled it off.

The minor league playoffs have begun.  Admittedly, just the Florida State League started its playoffs tonight as the Tampa Yankees host the Dunedin Blue Jays  and the Fort Myers Miracle (Twins) play host to the Palm Beach Cardinals. The FSL format is in shambles but it’s the best thing the league can do as hurricane Irma bears down on it. Most leagues in the minors will begin their playoffs tomorrow night. In most cases the playoffs are a 3 out of 5 format.  The FSL has cut it to a 2 out of 3 with no league champion.  Each division will have a champion this year. As if that weren’t bad enough the league scheduled doubleheaders in both series for Wednesday to end the season.   Other than in the panic capital (Florida) Whoever wins the two series beginning tomorrow will face each other next week. I particularly am looking forward to the meeting beginning tomorrow night between the Trenton Thunder (AA Yankees) and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets.)  They play their first two games in Binghamton starting tomorrow night, then finish the series in Trenton with games Friday for sure then Saturday and Sunday if needed. The winner faces whoever survives the series between the Altoona Curve (Pirates) and the Bowie BaySox (Orioles.) In a dozen years broadcasting minor league baseball I was only fortunate enough to call playoff action twice.  What surprised me was how poorly attended minor league playoffs were. Growing up there was no minor league baseball near where I lived and the playoff games I heard were of the major league variety. Those feature sellout if not overflow crowds.  So imagine my shock when the 1997 and 1998 minor league playoff games my partner and I called were poorly attended in a city where regular season games were normally sold out.  Asking around, we heard that the fans planned their schedules assuming the season would finish on Labor Day-which the regular season does throughout the minors.  With the kids back in school the adults don’t count on attending games that weren’t on the schedule.  I hope fans in Florida will take a few hours and go to a game in Tampa or Fort Myers over the next couple of days.

The full slate of major league games will be played under the lights. The Yankees hope CC Sabathia will continue his good run since coming off the DL when he faces the Orioles tonight.   He has 2 wins and a no-decision since then.  He faces Jeremy Hellickson who the Orioles rescued from baseball Oblivion in Philadelphia. The Mets send out Jacob DeGrom against the Phillies’ Ben Lively.  DeGrom could complete 200 innings which he has never done.  If nothing changes he has 5 starts to do it and needs 22 innings. Teams going nowhere will audition guys they hope will prove to be future talent.  One of these is the Braves’ lefty starter Luiz Gohara who makes his MLB debut against the Rangers. Gohara, age 21 hails from Brazil, a  nation far better known for producing soccer players and auto racers.  Until 2012 no Brazilian had reached the majors-catcher Yan Gomez now with the Indians was first. The Indians have won a dozen in a row, the longest winning streak in the majors in 2017.  The White Sox can’t be  expected to provide much opposition. After having to use a dozen pitchers to beat Oakland 11-9 in 11 innings yesterday the Angels expect another bull pen game today.  Garrett Richards will make his first start since April 5 when he left with an arm injury.  He is expected to go 3 innings at the most. Justin Verlander will make his Astros’ debut in Seattle as they face the Mariners.

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