When the Diamondbacks shipped three prospects to Detroit for J.D. Martinez, it was that most classic of deadline deals: the rental slugger. Martinez is a free agent after the season, but for the D-backs he’s a big bat in the lineup for a very good, playoff-bound team that believed it needed only a couple of additions to be a real contender in October.
Martinez is holding up his end of the deal; the rental slugger is slugging. He has 18 home runs in 144 at-bats since coming over to Arizona on July 18, including four last night in a 13-0 domination of the Dodgers in L.A.
Martinez became only the 18th player in baseball history to hit four dingers in a game, a feat rarer than a perfect game. But he had something very few other members on the verge of joining the four-HR club could boast: experience.
In 2015, as a member of the Tigers, Martinez had three home runs heading into his final at-bat of a game against the Yankees. He wanted that fourth one oh so badly.
“In my last at-bat, I started thinking about it and that’s when it didn’t happen,” said Martinez, who flew out to right in that at-bat.
“This at-bat, I came up and I was like, just go up here and try to have a good at-bat,” Martinez said. “Just keep doing what you’ve been doing all day. You know what, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. It’s going to happen. There’s no point in trying to force it. Just go up there and have a good at-bat.”
I’d say he had a good one.
On a larger scale, the Diamondbacks have now won 11 in a row, while the Dodgers have lost nine of their last 10, and the two teams could be on a collision course for a divisional series matchup (assuming the D-backs, locked in to the first wild card, can win that one-game playoff.) And unlike just about every other team, Arizona knows it can go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers. They’re 9-8 against L.A. this season, pretty impressive against a team that’s 46 games over .500 against everyone else. (The Nationals, at 2-1, are the only other team with a winning record against the Dodgers this year.)
The Diamondbacks would presumably send Zack Greinke to the hill for a one-game wild-card series, which would mean Robbie Ray would start Game 1 against the Dodgers. That suits the D-backs just fine. Ray was perfect through five innings last night and struck out 14 over seven and two-thirds—his fourth 10-plus strikeout performance against L.A. this season. Suddenly, the National League feels a lot more wide open.