So far, replacing Jason Giambi has been a lot easier by comparison.
Martinez tries to continue his recent power surge and help the Yankees extend their season-best win streak to six games as they open a three-game set with the Oakland Athletics.
Martinez homered in his fifth straight game Wednesday to help New York rally twice from big deficits, and the Yankees beat Seattle 13-9 to register their first three-game sweep of the Mariners since 1999.
Martinez golfed a three-run shot to right field in the fourth inning to tie the game at 9 and heard his name chanted as he rounded the bases—just as it often was during his first stint with the team from 1996-2001.
“They never forget what you do here,” Derek Jeter said. “Tino has always been a big-game player.”
Martinez’s home run streak is the longest by a Yankee since Mattingly, now the team’s hitting coach, connected in a major league-record eight consecutive games in 1987.
Both teams hit four home runs and each had five runs, five hits and one error in a first inning that lasted 39 minutes. New York starter Carl Pavano threw 34 pitches in the inning and was chased before the fifth after giving up four homers.
“You have to make good pitches, and I haven’t done that on a consistent basis,” Pavano said.
Martinez has seven home runs in his last eight starts and will remain the regular starter for now with Giambi in a severe slump. Giambi, batting just .195, declined a trip to the minor leagues on Tuesday and is expected to be the designated hitter against his former team Friday.
The Yankees are off Thursday before beginning a six-game trip that also takes them to Seattle.
“I’m very, very happy to have a day off. I could use it,” Martinez said. “I feel good at the plate and I’m seeing the ball well.”
The Athletics scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 lead over Boston on Wednesday before Jason Varitek hit a two-run homer in the bottom half to hand Oakland a 6-5 loss—the team’s fifth straight defeat.
Oakland, which has lost seven of eight, went 1-5 on it’s road trip—1-2 at Yankee Stadium and 0-3 in Boston.
“I’m not mad at our players, scoring the four runs in the ninth,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “Nobody out on that field can be blamed for lack of effort.”