TORONTO -- Victor Martinez thought he could outrun Ezequiel Carrera's arm from third base, and ended up with a reminder of what age has done to his legs. He had a much better result catching up with Jason Grilli's 94-mph fastball. He might run like he's older than 37, but
TORONTO -- Victor Martinez thought he could outrun Ezequiel Carrera's arm from third base, and ended up with a reminder of what age has done to his legs. He had a much better result catching up with Jason Grilli's 94-mph fastball. He might run like he's older than 37, but he hits like somebody younger.
As Martinez's eighth-inning drive sailed into the seats beyond right-center field at Rogers Centre, for an estimated 421-foot, go-ahead homer and the deciding run in Saturday's 3-2 Tigers win over the Blue Jays, he provided another reminder what his resurgence has meant.
"It just shows you how much we missed it last year, when he had the bad knee," manager Brad Ausmus said.
A year ago, Martinez looked like his bat might be done hitting for power against Major League pitching. As he wraps up the first half of the season, he could've made a viable case for an All-Star spot. If he wasn't in a crowded field at designated hitter, he might have had a better case.
Martinez's drive was his 17th home run of the year, six more than last season's total. His next run scored will tie him with last year. He's within 13 hits and 12 RBIs of his 2015 numbers.
"He has his ailments here and there, and he battles through them," Ausmus said, "and he's hitting over .300 and driving in runs and hitting the ball over the fence. And he's generally a tough out."
It won't get him to San Diego next week, but he doesn't seem concerned. He's ready for the break.
"Go home," Martinez said of his plans.
Martinez reached base in the second inning on a leadoff walk and went station to station from there on singles by Nick Castellanos and Justin Upton. He saw Steven Moya scorch a liner to left and thought former Tiger Carrera couldn't get him at the plate. Call or no call from third-base coach Dave Clark, he was going.
"I went to Brad and I told him that was on me -- and Clarky had nothing to do with it," Martinez said. "It was a decision that I [made]. I thought that ball was a little deeper, and then I went and saw the replay and realized that he was actually coming in. But he made a perfect throw. At the same time, it was my fault and I told Brad it was on me."
Said Ausmus: "The throw was right there, and they barely got him. If the throw's even to the right or left of the catcher, he's probably safe. In that sense, it wasn't necessarily a bad risk."
He made up for it in the eighth with a trot around the basepaths. He had fallen into an 0-2 hole against Grilli with one out and nobody on. But he remained selective and honed in on the fastball.
"First pitch was a changeup. Second pitch was a slider," Martinez said. "And they've been pitching everybody with a fastball high. I was trying to lay off that high fastball -- and they actually threw me one, and I went after it and fouled it off. Then, I was just trying to get low early and see the ball and put a good swing [on it]."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.