J.D. joins 100-RBI club, but laments misplay
ARLINGTON -- J.D. Martinez had been anticipating his 100th RBI for a while. In a wild 7-6 loss on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park, he watched it sail over the right-field fence, vaulting him into elite company among run producers with a two-run homer.
"From a year-and-a-half ago to today, it's been quite a change," said Martinez, who joined the Tigers last season only after the Astros released him in Spring Training.
But the way Detroit's season has gone, it can never be that simple. A few innings later, he watched the go-ahead run fall just beyond him in the right-field corner as he pulled up, leaving him something to lament.
It was a 7-6 game in the fourth inning. He couldn't have imagined it staying that way through the ninth.
"I messed it up, obviously," he said.
Given what he means to Detroit's fortunes, not just now but years to come, they'll take it.
"Everybody's happy for him," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think a little bit of a weight has been lifted. He's been trying to get to 100 RBIs. Maybe he can relax a little bit and enjoy playing."
Martinez drove in 76 runs in 123 games last season, a pace that would have put him in range of the century mark had he played the full season in Detroit. His 26 RBIs this June put him at 59 RBIs by the All-Star break, leaving the mark seemingly inevitable.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it," Martinez said. "It's one of those things you kind of want to get it over with. Everyone keeps talking about it. You guys keep asking me about it. It's one of those things you want to put behind you and move forward."
Still, it hasn't been that easy for him. A move to the cleanup spot with Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera on the disabled list at various times proved less fruitful than expected, and a low home-run total in early September didn't help. He plated runs in just four of his first 21 games this month.
He admits that the final month without a playoff push has been wearing on him.
"It's hard to say no," Martinez said. "It's just the grind of September. You're tired. Your team is not in it. It's hard to get motivated. It's just one of those things where you've got to grind through at-bats and still work hard. Last year in September we were running on adrenaline. When you are playing for something, it's a lot different. At the same time, it's not an excuse."
A chance to make Cole Hamels pay for a two-out walk to Cabrera was just the chance Martinez needed. He jumped a first-pitch fastball and sent it deep to right-center field for his 38th home run of the year.
Martinez's 100th and 101st RBIs of the season made him the first Tigers outfielder to hit triple digits since Magglio Ordonez drove in 103 runs in 2008.
The power-production combination is rarer than that. Not since Dean Palmer in 1999 has a Tiger other than Cabrera posted 38 home runs with 100 RBIs in the same season. Just a handful of other Tigers have ever done it -- Hank Greenberg four times between 1937 and 1946, Cecil Fielder in 1990 and 1991, and Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito in 1961.