Russell Martin landed in Detroit on June 1 with a .187 batting average. While the Yankees have constantly said catching is more about defense, he was aware something had to change for him at the plate.
That was when he decided to stop standing so close to the plate. So far, the early returns of the adjustment have been good — none bigger than yesterday’s two-homer performance.
“It’s where I’m setting up in the box when I’m hitting,” Martin told Metro New York. “Instead of getting closer to the plate, I kind of just backed off and it let me have more room.
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“I just tried it out. It was in Detroit and it has helped me see the ball better, a lot better. I felt that the angle I was spreading myself and being closer to the plate, I just felt tense trying to hit the ball and I kind of backed off.”
Martin is on a .342 (13-for-38) tear since May 25 with four home runs — all coming since he changed his stance.
“He’s a guy that in the past has always opened his front side and we figured being close to the plate would help him out,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “But he backed off and it’s helped him out.”
“It seemed like every line drive that he hit was hard, in the gaps and over the outfielder’s head,” Joe Girardi said. “But I just think he feels better and now his swing is more consistent.”
Martin said that he feels dangerous at the plate and it seems so do the Yankees. They could have easily called it day after falling behind 3-0 while spending most of the time dominated by Jon Niese.
“The Mets played us tough today,” Andy Pettitte said. “It’s a good win and one we could have chalked as a loss. But it’s good to sweep.”
The sweep was made possible by things going very right for the Yankees and very wrong for the Mets. The spark was two errors by Met infielders in the seventh and eighth and a little bloop hit by Alex Rodriguez that started the first go-ahead rally.
That came after Jeter opened the eighth by putting a ball under shortstop Omar Quantinilla’s glove. Three batters later, Rodriguez popped up a pitch that fell between Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis and the Yankees seemed to get another break.
“It’s a long season and there are some plays that can go either way, but the play by the shortstop helped us out,” Martin said. “Alex chipped one behind first base and you need those to go your way sometimes.”
But the biggest break was Martin turning on a full count slider from Jon Rauch and pulling it over the left field wall.
“It’s got to come from different places every day,” Girardi said. “If you look at his last three weeks, he’s swinging the bat really well, the way he’s capable of doing.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher for breaking news from the Bronx Bombers.