Russell Martin has been on a bit of streak this past week.
In his last seven games, he’s batting .370/.414/.963 with six home runs and 11 RBI. Even more amazing, he’s hit those six home runs in four out of the last five games he’s played, and that includes a two-home run performance in a 12-6 rout against the Yankees on August 16.
Martin struggled mightily to start the 2016 season, batting .150/.224/.167 with four RBI in April. He improved slightly to .230/.284/.345 with three home runs and 10 RBI in May, but he was still grappling with some issues at the plate. Martin’s numbers finally started picking up in early June; he crossed the Mendoza line on June 10, and he hasn’t looked back.
His best month of the season, so far, is August, with those six home runs and a line of .294/.379/.686 in 14 games (58 plate appearances).
I figured since he’s having so much fun hitting the long ball that we could take a look at how he’s done it. We’ll begin on August 13, which is the start of this hot streak.
Toronto was playing against Houston in Toronto and Martin connected on a three-run home run in the sixth inning when the Blue Jays were down 2-1 to the Astros. His home run ended up being the game winner.
James Hoyt threw six pitches, all sinkers and sliders, and Martin took an 86-mph slider over the wall in deep centerfield in the Rogers Centre.
The next day, Martin connected on a solo home run against Astros starter Mike Fiers. The Blue Jays were already ahead 4-1 in the fifth when Martin connected on a first-pitch changeup from Fiers. And to add insult to injury, his home run followed a long ball by Josh Donaldson. Martin’s shot knocked Fiers out of the game and the Blue Jays went on to win, 9-2.
Two days later, at Yankee Stadium, a place where Martin feels at home, he had a big night. He hit two home runs — one against Anthony Swarzak to cut the Yankees’ lead to 6-4 and one against Adam Warren to put the Blue Jays ahead 8-6. They ended up winning the game 12-6.
His first home run was off a 94.4-mph fastball from Swarzak. It was the seventh pitch of the at-bat, the ball landed in centerfield and it knocked Swarzak out of the game.
His second home run was off a 93.9-mph fastball from Warren. It was the seventh pitch of the at-bat, the ball landed down the rightfield line and it knocked Warren out of the game.
On Friday night against Cleveland, Martin smacked a two-run home run off Trevor Bauer in the top of the first inning. Bauer threw Martin a first-pitch 93.5-mph fastball that got too much of the plate, and Martin hit it out to left field to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. They lost on a walk-off, inside-the-park home run by Tyler Naquin.
And finally, on Saturday night in Cleveland, Martin came up in the top of the third inning and hit a solo shot off starter Josh Tomlin to make the score 3-0 Toronto. According to the preliminary data on Brooks Baseball, it was an 85.3-mph cutter and Martin hit it to right-center field.
Toronto went on to win the game, 6-5.
Right now, Toronto is atop the American League East division and Martin’s red-hot performance is helping fill the void left in the lineup by the absence of the injured Jose Bautista.
Stacey Gotsulias is a contributing writer for Beyond the Box Score. She also writes for The Hardball Times, BP Bronx, and Call to the Pen. You can follow her on Twitter @StaceGots.