Nats' Martinson homers twice, plates six

Suns' leadoff batter also scores five times in rout of Legends

Justin Martinson hit 19 homers with 64 RBIs last year. (Will Bentzel/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | April 10, 2012 7:42 PM ET

When outfielder Brian Goodwin hit the disabled list Tuesday, Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach had one simple request for new leadoff batter Jason Martinson -- get on base and set the table.

The former fifth-round Draft pick did more than just that, slugging two homers with six RBIs and five runs scored in the Class A Suns' 16-8 rout of the Lexington Legends.

"I don't know the last time I had a game like this," Martinson said. "I think I hit two home runs when we had a scout day in my junior year of college, or maybe when I hit for the cycle in college, but that's it."

Bumped up a notch from the No. 2 spot in the order with Goodwin on the seven-day DL with a leg injury, Martinson walked and scored in the first frame, and he slugged an opposite-field grand slam over the right-field wall in the second.

"I was just trying to slow things down at the plate, put the ball in play and get that runner home from third," the 23-year-old said. "I chased two pitches out of the zone, but [Carlos Quevedo] left a fastball a little bit over the plate and I was able to square it up. I wasn't really sitting on anything. Down 0-2, I was swinging at anything close."

The shortstop then ripped a two-bagger to center field in the fourth before hammering his second longball of the game, a two-run shot, in the bottom of the sixth.

The blast gave Martinson his first multi-homer game in his three-year pro career. It also helped him eclipse his previous best of four RBIs, set on Aug. 28, 2010 with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters and replicated last July 18 with the Suns.

"We were up in the game, so I was basically looking for a pitch in my zone to hit," the Texas native said. "He threw me two balls so I knew he needed to get back in the count. I got a pitch in the middle of the zone and slightly down so I went and got it."

In the eighth, Martinson induced a walk from incoming pitcher Scott Zuloaga and scored his fifth run on Brett Newsome's grand slam. Newsome had entered the game an inning earlier as a defensive replacement at first base.

"Some guys were joking about a third [home run], but I just wanted to keep the same approach that I had been using all game," Martinson said. "I was satisfied with what I had already done, and I didn't want to give away an at-bat just trying to hit another one."

Martinson's performance followed a three-strikeout night in Game 1 of the series against Lexington on Monday. He made a few small adjustments in the box and says the changes made a big difference.

"Today I changed my stance and got my hands up," he explained. "Yesterday I had a lot of movement and I wasn't picking up the pitches that quickly. I tried to close my stance to cut down on that movement, and that let me get set a lot earlier.

"When Brian [Goodwin] went down, I got bumped up to the leadoff spot, so it was important for me to get on base and get innings started."

Martinson is batting .381 with eight RBIs and 13 runs scored through the first six games of the season in his return to the South Atlantic League.

Last year, the Texas State product hit .252 with 19 homers, 64 RBIs and 64 runs in 129 appearances.

On Tuesday, Martinson's offensive output made a winner out of Suns starter Wirkin Estevez. The right-hander gave up four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in five innings.

Left fielder J.P. Ramirez, batting in the No. 2 spot, was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI and catcher Adrian Nieto had three hits and fell a triple shy of the cycle.

Lexington starter Quevedo (0-1) surrendered seven runs on eight hits and a walk over three innings. Zachary Johnson homered, doubled and plated three and first baseman Tyler Burnett also went deep in the loss.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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