2019 NLDS: Russell Martin Reflects On Journey Back To Postseason With Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the 2019 NLDS
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

When Russell Martin returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers last offseason, the expectation was that he would be a backup catcher that could play a couple of times a week while also mentoring some of the team’s young players.

What no one could have guessed is that Martin would be coming up with the biggest hit of the season, but that is exactly what happened in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

The Dodgers offense was looking anemic for the second straight game as they trailed 2-1 in the sixth inning with Patrick Corbin coming out of the bullpen, just how the Nationals scripted it. Martin stepped to the plate and quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count, but he continued to battle.

Martin would up hitting a double into the gap to bring home two runs and give the Dodgers the lead, sparking a seven-run rally that eventually led to a 10-4 victory to give Los Angeles a 2-1 series lead. Martin also hit a two-run home run later in the game to provide some insurance.

“Any time you’re in the postseason it’s great. The energy, everything’s magnified,” said Martin, reflecting on his journey back to October with the Dodgers. “Yeah, 10 years, it flies by. It’s just nice, it’s a good feeling. We got a good group, and, yeah, I mean, I don’t know what else to say except we’re having fun.”

The last time that Martin homered for the Dodgers in the postseason was in the 2008 NLDS against the Chicago Cubs when he was just 25 years of age. Now 36, Martin discussed what has changed for him since that time.

“Oh, that’s such a long time ago. A lot of foul tips ago. I don’t know if I can remember. I’m definitely calmer now,” he said. “I’ve always been an intense baseball player and just person in general, but I think now I just know how to take a deep breath. I had a lot of yoga classes in between those games and now.”

All of the Dodgers’ run in that sixth inning rally came with two outs, and all of the batters that got hits did so with two strikes in the count. Martin sparked the rally with a big hit off Corbin, who has dominated the Dodgers in the past.

“I mean, after I got down two strikes I don’t know it wasn’t a good feeling, you know what I mean? Who likes being down 0-2? Nobody,” he recalled.

“I just pitch by pitch just kept fighting, was able to lay off some tough pitches, and I felt like every pitch the more I got deep into the at-bat the better I felt. And he just left a slider that was just, it’s not working away from me, he’s a lefty so it’s working its way into me and I just kept my hand in and just lifted it and found an alley.”