DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez's special week continued Saturday night. Three days after returning from the disabled list and hitting a pinch-hit go-ahead home run on the first pitch he saw, Martinez provided more drama.The right fielder sealed the deal on a 6-5 Tigers win over the Mets by throwing out
DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez's special week continued Saturday night. Three days after returning from the disabled list and hitting a pinch-hit go-ahead home run on the first pitch he saw, Martinez provided more drama.
The right fielder sealed the deal on a 6-5 Tigers win over the Mets by throwing out the potential tying run at home plate. Travis d'Arnaud singled to shallow right field off closer Francisco Rodríguez, and Jay Bruce tried to score from second base. Martinez said he was playing in and was anticipating the ball coming his way.
"I wasn't confident that [d'Arnaud] was going to drive something over my head," Martinez said. "So I just shaded in a little bit more than perhaps they say you should. Anticipating it was really the biggest thing."
The play at the plate was very close, but Mets manager Terry Collins opted not to challenge the ruling. The replays showed that Bruce did not even touch home plate.
"When I got the ball, I kind of peeked up, and I didn't think he was going to go," Martinez said. "I kind of peeked in, I was like, 'Oh, he's going.' And then I just threw it. I threw it lower than I wanted to, but the good thing is I got enough backspin on it that it jumped."
Martinez came back to the team earlier this week with a cloud of doubt surrounding the strength of his arm due to an elbow fracture. If the cloud of doubt had not been cleared by a handful of strong throws earlier this week, Martinez wiped it all away with his game-ending bullet.
"It's been really special," Martinez said. "It's been a blessing from God. I finally get to do what I love again. And I think that's the most satisfying thing about it, is being able to go on the field and play baseball again. It sucks when you can't play the game you love."
Starting pitcher Matt Boyd was grateful for Martinez's throw, which preserved a win for him.
"Oh man, that was awesome," Boyd said. "You should have heard it in our dugout. We were going crazy. That's the kind of plays that keep propelling you and that we build off of for the games going forward."
The throw helped the Tigers hold on for their 10th win in 11 games. Rodriguez made things interesting after allowing three straight two-out hits, but he was also grateful for Martinez's heroics.
"It was a great throw," Rodriguez said. "J.D. picked me up big time. When everything is going well, you catch those types of breaks. And I guarantee you if that would have happened in the first few weeks of the season, this would have been a blown save for sure."
Rodriguez picked up his 32nd save in 34 tries, and he also picked up another ball to add to his collection. Rodriguez has started collecting balls from each of his saves and writing either a number or a particular milestone on them. He has kept several milestone balls throughout his career, such as his 200th and 300th saves, or saves in games that he passed other great closers on the all-time list. He recently started saving balls from each of his saves, saying that they may not mean that much right now, but down the road they will be very special to him and his family.
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.