J.D. Martinez spoke for nearly 10 minutes Wednesday afternoon about not thinking. During Martinez’s initial two years in the majors, strong stretches would be erased by poor weeks. When Martinez’s numbers fell downward, the 25-year-old would worry, over-think and over-react. Not in 2013. Two games after going 0-for-5 with a franchise record-tying five strikeouts and one contest after striking out in the ninth inning without swinging his bat while a win was on the line, the Astros right fielder cracked the go-ahead hit during the club’s 6-3 victory against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Martinez went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI, raising his average to .259 and driving in his 19th run in 112 at-bats. He’s slugging .482 and has quickly adapted to his new role as the team’s unorthodox cleanup hitter. “This guy’s a run producer. He’s one of those guys that when there’s RBIs out there, he smells them,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “He smells them and he’s put together some of his best at-bats with men in scoring position.” During a tight game that saw starters Erik Bedard and Tyler Chatwood trade smooth outs and scoreless innings, the Rockies meekly backed down during the eighth against the second-worst team in baseball. After Marwin Gonzalez was moved to second base via a Brandon Barnes sacrifice bunt, the Rockies decided to intentionally walk Jose Altuve with one out. American League player of the week Jason Castro quickly struck out. But Martinez followed with a sharp RBI single to center field, driving in Gonzalez, and Colorado’s decision to play the percentages backfired. Porter wouldn’t directly comment about the Rockies’ decision to walk Altuve. “My thought process is, I want to put this man in scoring position to give us the best opportunity to get this man home, whether it’s Castro or J.D. or (Carlos) Pena,” Porter said. The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the four-game interleague series, which features two games apiece in Houston and Denver. A set that produced only eight runs during 21 innings in the first two contests was tight again Wednesday and initially featured poor offensive execution from both teams. The Astros struck out 12 times overall, while Colorado was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and left 12 men on base. The Rockies are 7-for-36 with RISP and have left 34 men on base during the series. A Martinez single and Chris Carter opposite-field double set up a Matt Dominguez sacrifice fly that gave the Astros a 1-0 second-inning lead. Astros (16-37) veteran lefthander Erik Bedard didn’t allow a run until the bottom of the fourth, when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki homered into the far-right corner in right field. “I’m just throwing a lot of strikes and keeping them off balance,” said Bedard, who lowered his ERA to 5.32 and has allowed eight earned runs in his last 22 innings. The Astros struggled to touch 23-year-old righthanded Rockies (28-25) starter Tyler Chatwood, who struck out eight and only allowed two hits during his initial five innings.
Martinez’s go-ahead hit fuels Astros’ 6-3 win over Rockies
Houston Chronicle | May 30