June boon: J.D. setting blistering power pace
With winning homer in eighth, Tigers right fielder has clubbed 19, including 10 this month
DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez's first swing Friday night brought the crowd to its feet as 38,455 fans watched the ball soar toward the center-field wall.
But it didn't leave the ballpark and instead settled into Adam Eaton's glove, another victim of Comerica Park's expansive center field.
"Welcome to Comerica," Martinez said.
That didn't seem to bother the Tigers' right fielder, though. Martinez blasted a no-doubter to left in the eighth inning, the game-winning run that capped Detroit's 5-4 victory over the White Sox.
"It just feels like I'm getting maybe one hit a game, but it just happens to be a home run," Martinez said. "It's one of those things right now where I can't explain it. You just hit a ball, and it's a home run. It's weird."
Martinez is underselling himself. The 27-year-old has reached base safely in 19 straight contests, a career high, and also has seven multi-hit games and 23 RBIs this month. That has boosted his batting average to .274, up from a season-low .216 following a week-long hitless streak in early May.
As third baseman Nick Castellanos, who bats behind Martinez, said: "To be honest, it sucks, because he takes all the RBIs."
Then there are the home runs: already 19 this year, 10 of which have come in June. Martinez credits his studious approach to hitting, which helped him realize he wasn't loading his hands -- bringing his weight back -- before swinging, contributing to his earlier struggles. And now?
"In the last couple of games, the ones I've been hitting have been going," Martinez said.
Leading off the eighth inning on Friday, he drove the second pitch he saw from Zach Duke -- an 89-mph fastball that caught a lot of the plate -- over the bullpen and into the seats in left field. It marked his sixth home run in the seventh inning or later this season.
"I was just trying to hit something hard -- that's it," the right fielder said.
And he had, for the second time that night. Only on this occasion, no outfielder could catch it.