Russell Martin Continues to Carry the New York Yankees Towards the Finish line
Martin had two hits, knocked in three runs and launched his career-high 20th homer of the season in the sixth inning off Toronto reliever Jason Frasor to give the Yankees another important late September win. The victory trimmed the Yankees magic number to clinch a playoff birth to just two with five games left to play and kept its lead at one-game over the second-place Baltimore Orioles, which used six first-inning runs to beat Boston 9-1.
However, the real story is the suddenly resurgent hitting of Martin. After spending most of the season batting a dollar and change the 29-year-old has come alive at just the right time and is carrying the Yankees across the finish line running.
Martin’s offensive numbers for the season rank among the worst in the American League, but right now that means absolutely nothing. In September, he is batting .274 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. . Entering the month, the Yankees catcher was hitting an underwhelming .196, but Martin’s hot stick has since pushed his average up to .212.
Dare I say “en fuego?”
Martin is not the only Yankees hitter saving his best for last. Ichiro Suzuki is hitting .376 with two homeruns, 10 RBI’s and nine stolen bases since the calender flipped from August to September. New York’s 38-year-old captain Derek Jeter has turned back the clock to look more like his 29-year-old version, picking up his ML-leading 209th hit against Toronto and improving his batting average to .317 overall; his highest in two seasons.
The Yankees have clearly switched gears into full October-mode and with Mark Texeira set to make his return form a calf strain, the rich are quickly getting richer. New York has one more game with the Blue Jays on Saturday before closing the season with a three-game set against America’s favorite spoilers, the Boston Red Sox. Meanwhile, The Orioles have two more with the Red Sox before heading to Tampa Bay for a critical final series. The Rays trail Baltimore and the Oakland A’s by three games for the final MLB Wild Card spot.
This is exactly why the additional Wild Card is great for baseball. There is still so much left to determine and such little time to do so. Is it October yet?
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