Russell Martin comes through in the Toronto Blue Jays’ biggest game of the year
As the Toronto Blue Jays entered the bottom of the seventh, they found themselves in a tense situation. Leading just 1-0, they desperately needed more runs, to create some separation from the New York Yankees.
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Enter Russell Martin. In the Blue Jays biggest game of the year, the four-time All-Star delivered when it mattered most.
Martin’s three-run blast provided some much-needed breathing space, and Toronto never looked back. By the time the night was over, they had increased their lead in the AL East to 3.5 games, with just 10 to go.
In some respects, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Blue Jays’ catcher deliver, when it matters most. He’s been in plenty of big moments over the years, making the postseason in seven of his nine seasons in the majors.
And make no mistake about it, Wednesday night was a big moment. This was the Blue Jays biggest game of the season, and maybe in 22 years.
Toronto have looked all but certain of ending their postseason drought in recent weeks, while also threatening to finish with the best overall record in the AL. After sitting at 53-52 on August 1st, they have been on a sensational tear, winning 34 of 47 games.
However, the nerves have started to creep in recently, with the Blue Jays losing three of their last four games. This minor glitch had allowed the pesky Yankees to stick around.
Sep 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) celebrates the win with third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) at the end of a game against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Fortunately, Toronto’s finest have Martin, a player built for moments like this. A lot of players wilt in pressure situations, but not this guy, who admitted he was energized by the crowd of 48,056.
Speaking to Arden Swelling of Sportsnet, Martin said: “The park is sold out; the crowd is electric.
“It makes those moments stand out even more. If the crowd wasn’t as loud as it was, it wouldn’t feel the same.”
Martin was then asked about his home run: “Right there, I’m just trying to make solid contact, really just trying to get a base hit.
“I think they were trying to throw a fastball in, but it kind of looped over the plate. So I took a swing and it had enough.”
Part of the reason the Blue Jays are in position to win the AL East, is because they have won a single-season high 13 games against their arch rivals. And a big part of this has been the play of Martin against his former club.
In 50 at bats, the 2002 17th round draft pick has hit 18 RBIs, including five home runs. On top of this, he has batted .300, significantly above his season average of .239.
Martin has had his injury issues this season, and has missed 30 games in total. And yet, his stunning home run against the Yankees equaled a career-high of 21.
The Blue Jays will now get to enjoy one more off-day, before they play their final 10 games of the season. However, Martins comments on taking a break spoke volumes about both his and the team’s attitude.
The Ontario-born Martin said: “At this point, I’m ready to go, I don’t even want the off-day.
“(However), I’ll take it, the body’s going to need it. Right now, I’m just having a lot of fun playing the game and I think the whole team is.”
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