When the season began, four whole weeks ago, no one knew quite what to expect from either the 2021 Red Sox or the 2021 J.D. Martinez.
Both had 2020 seasons to forget: Nasty, brutish, and thanks to the pandemic, short. The Red Sox finished with their worst record in more than 50 years and Martinez suffered through his worst season since he re-made his swing and salvaged his career back in 2013.
There were plenty of reasons for the dual drop-offs.
The starting rotation lost its two best starters to injury, necessitating a reliance on a handful of not-ready-for-prime-time replacements, with predictable results.
As for Martinez, he never seemed to get untracked after the three-month long pause between spring training and summer camp, and pandemic protocols robbed him of the ability to review his at-bats in-game.
Still, there were no guarantees that either the club or Martinez would rebound in 2021. Expectations were kept in check for both.
But one month in, there's reason for optimism all around. And it was only fitting that as the Red Sox finished out April with the best record in the American League (17-10), it was Martinez who led the way in their final game of the month.
His first swing of the night produced a three-run homer three batters into the game. That not only matched the Sox' meager scouring output from the previous two nights combined, it also provided enough of a cushion for the rest of the night against the Texas Rangers. The Sox would go on to win a 6-1 decision with another run coming on Martinez's second homer of the night, a solo shot in the third. But Martinez's early blow was all they would need.
And there was some neat symbolism to all of that, too. While it's been the Red Sox pitching that has been the biggest surprise of the young season, it's been Martinez who has driven the team's offense.