Victor Martinez had a rather historic evening.
His four doubles tied a major-league record. They were the most for a catcher since Sandy Alomar Jr. had four for the Indians on June 6, 1997 against the Sox at Fenway.
Martinez became the fifth Red Sox player to collect four doubles, the first since Rick Miller on May 11, 1981 at Toronto’s old Exhibition Stadium.
Martinez had five hits last Aug. 2 at Baltimore, two days after the Red Sox traded for him. Since 1952, he is the only Red Sox catcher to have five hits in a game.
“I definitely got a little bit lucky,” Martinez said. “Five good swings, find the holes.”
It’s more than that, obviously. Martinez is 18 of 39 over his last 11 games with 13 extra-base hits and 12 RBI. The hot streak has raised his batting average from .226 to .279. As he did with his throwing early in the season, Martinez has worked hard.
It was almost comical when A’s manager Bob Geren allowed lefty Craig Breslow to face Martinez in the sixth inning with a runner on third and one out. Victor took a 1-1 fastball and crushed it to center to give the Sox a lead they would not lose. Martinez is hitting .431 with a 1.306 OPS against lefties. The only question was where the ball would land.
Here’s what the difference is with the Red Sox these days. They went down 4-0 in the fifth inning and to that point had left seven runners on and were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. Earlier this season, they lose that game.
Tonight they scored three in the fifth inning and by the time it was over, they had nine runs on 14 hits. The Sox are on a pace to score 850 runs, only 22 fewer than last year and that’s without much of anything from Jacoby Ellsbury or Mike Cameron.
It’s time to acknowledge that this not simply an adequate offensive team, it’s a pretty good one.
“We didn’t panic, we didn’t get frustrated,” Terry Francona said.
That John Lackey managed to go six innings despite allowing 12 hits is a sign of how much faith Francona has in him. Lackey has not pitched well (80 hits and 32 walks over 67.1 innings) but he manages to hang in there most nights.
“Everybody in that dugout, including myself, thinks he’s going to figure out a way to get people out,” Francona said.
Lackey is 6-3 and that sounds good. But the Sox are only 6-5 games he has started. Tonight, for the first time, Lackey acknowledged that he has not been sharp. But he also pointed out that he usually goes on a good run around this time of the season.
“I’m going to pick those guys up,” he said.
The Sox are 26-15 since April 20, the best record in the AL. But those first 12 games counted and the Sox are still in fourth place. Still, every day, you see a few more signs that this team will pounce once the opportunity presents itself. Eventually, that time will come.
It’s amazing that only six teams in the AL have a positive run differential and four of them are in the AL East. Somebody could win 90 games and be playing golf on Oct. 4.