June 26th, 2014

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Rangers

In Game 2 of the Tigers outfield rotation, it’s Rajai Davis’ turn to sit. It’s not so much based on matchups against Nick Martinez (there aren’t many), more based on J.D. Martinez being a must-play, Torii Hunter just back and Austin Jackson having sat yesterday.

TIGERS (numbers off Nick Martinez)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-3)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (0-for-3)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (0-for-2, walk)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (2-for-3, double)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-3, K)
  7. Austin Jackson, CF (1-for-3)
  8. Alex Avila, C (1-for-3, K)
  9. Eugenio Suarez, SS

P: Rick Porcello

RANGERS (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. Leonys Martin, CF (3-for-7, triple, walk, K)
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS (3-for-20, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, LF (10-for-31, 4 doubles, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. Adrian Beltre, 3B (8-for-23, 2 doubles, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Alex Rios, RF (9-for-41, double, 3 HR, 8 K’s)
  6. Carlos Pena, 1B (4-for-14, 2 HR, 2 K’s)
  7. Robinson Chirinos, C
  8. Michael Choice, DH
  9. Luis Sardinas, 2B

P: Nick Martinez

 

Tigers outright Evan Reed to Toledo

Evan Reed is headed back to Triple-A Toledo. The right-handed reliever, designated for assignment by the Tigers last week to make room for Chad Smith, cleared waivers and had his contract outrighted to the Mud Hens.

Reed spent most of last season in Toledo, save for a few stints in Detroit. The 28-year-old cracked the Tigers’ Opening Day roster this year by showing an effective breaking ball to go with his upper 90s fastball, but struggled over the past month or so.

Because Reed had been designated for assignment previously, he had the option of declining the outright and becoming a free agent. To do that, however, would require him to give up his Major League contract.

Game 74: V-Mart rejoins 20-homer club … by July

Below is the list of players in Tigers history to hit 20 home runs by the All-Star break at age 35 or older, courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Also included are Victor Martinez’s stats going into Wednesday night:

Rk I Player Split Year G HR GS PA AB RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Hank Greenberg 1st Half 1946 70 22 70 293 256 55 37 43 .270 .362 .613 .975
2 Gary Sheffield 1st Half 2007 82 21 80 371 307 58 52 33 .303 .410 .560 .970
3 Norm Cash 1st Half 1971 71 20 64 274 232 49 35 45 .293 .388 .608 .996
4 Victor Martinez 1st Half 2014 73 19 72 310 277 50 29 22 .329 .387 .599 .986
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/26/2014.

As you can see, it’s not a long list. All three of the other guys, however, had 40-homer seasons on their resumes already. Victor Martinez hasn’t hit more than 25 in a season.

And that’s not just a rarity for the Tigers. Of the other 35 players since 1990 to hit 20 homers by the All-Star break at age 35 or older (35 at 35, I know, but V-Mart makes it 36 now), there’s only one other player who had never had a 30-homer season beforehand. That was Edgar Martinez in 2000, when he hit 37 home runs for the Mariners at age 37.

“You know what, man, it feels good,” Victor Martinez said hitting his 20th home run of the year Wednesday night to power a victory over the Rangers. “But at the same time, I still have a long way to go. It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. I’m just focusing on helping this team win every day and then seeing what happens.

“Maybe I’ll look at my stats when I’m sitting on my couch in my house after the season,” he said. “But I’m not going to lie: It feels great.”

Not only did he reach the 20-homer mark by the end of June, he did it with a 20th homer that wasn’t cheap. It was a 408-foot drive to near-straightaway center field at Globe Life Park, one of back-to-back home runs and it provided one of several critical insurance runs to an eventual 8-5 win.

His 2-for-5 performance included an RBI double in the first inning, raising his average on the season to .330. With Astros second baseman and AL batting leader Jose Altuve going 0-for-4, Martinez not only passed Robinson Cano for second in the AL in hitting, he moved within two points of the lead in the batting race.

“Vic’s been swinging well all year — right-handed, left-handed, take your pick,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

He hit .330 over a full season in 2011, driving in 103 runs in the process. He did so with just 12 home runs, a testament to his consistent hitting with runners in scoring position. He drove in 27 runs on homers that season, but had 38 RBI singles.

So far this season, 28 of his 52 RBIs have resulted from the long ball.

In a season in which Martinez seems to be flexing his muscles, he says his strength is coming from his stronger legs, two years recuperated from knee surgery.

“I think 75 percent [of the power] comes from the legs,” Martinez said, “and I’ve been able to use them a lot more.”

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