The fans of northeast Ohio likely aren’t surprised.
The former Indians star hopes to stay hot Monday night as he makes his first appearance in Cleveland as a visitor, with his surging Red Sox looking to beat the Indians for a sixth straight time.
Martinez spent parts of eight seasons with Cleveland, hitting above .300 three times and helping the team reach the brink of the World Series in 2007, before falling in seven games to the eventual champion Red Sox.
“It’s tough because I’m leaving my house,” an emotional Martinez said at the time. “This was my house. It’s really tough.”
If his recent play is any indication, Martinez has become comfortable in a Red Sox uniform. Since May 17, he’s batting a major league-best .463 (25 for 54) with five homers, nine doubles and 12 RBIs.
His two-run homer at Baltimore on Sunday gave the Red Sox (33-25) an early lead, although the team went on to lose 4-3 in 11 innings. Boston has still won seven of eight on the road and 14 of 19 overall, pulling within 4 1/2 games of division-leading Tampa Bay.
Since falling behind the Indians 3-1 in the 2007 AL championship series, the Red Sox have won 15 of 18 against Cleveland. They swept the Indians in a four-game series at Fenway Park from Oct. 1-4, with Martinez hitting a grand slam as part of a 5-for-12 performance.
Martinez won’t recognize a good portion of Cleveland’s current lineup, which includes several newcomers. One holdover is right-hander Fausto Carmona(notes), who starts the series opener for the last-place Indians.
Carmona (4-4, 3.53 ERA) has lost three straight starts, but has made positive strides this season after battling injuries and ineffectiveness the last two years.
“He was fantastic,” manager Manny Acta told the Indians’ official website. “Every time it looked like he was going to give up a couple runs, he got a double play.”
Including playoffs, Carmona is 0-3 with a 22.50 ERA in his career at Fenway Park, but he has been much better against the Red Sox at home, going 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA in two starts.
Boston will have Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) (4-2, 5.49) on the mound. The enigmatic right-hander gave up three runs in the first inning Wednesday against Oakland, but settled down to complete 6 2-3 innings in a 6-4 win.
“My only thought was to dig in and keep battling,” Matsuzaka said. “Things turned around.”
The Red Sox may not know what to expect from Matsuzaka, who gave up 10 hits but did not walk a batter against the A’s after holding Kansas City to two hits but walking a career-high eight in his previous start. The outing before that, Matsuzaka flirted with a no-hitter at Philadelphia.
The key for Matsuzaka may be to avoid the big inning. He’s allowed 26 runs in his seven starts - 21 of those runs have been scored in five innings.
Cleveland is beginning a 10-game homestand. The Indians have only eight home wins, tied with Milwaukee for the fewest in the majors. They’ve lost 11 of 14 at home.