Will Tigers play it by ear with V-Mart?

The Tigers have a plan with Victor Martinez and his left knee. It did not include pinch-running for Martinez in the seventh inning of a close game, even though he represented the go-ahead run.

“I don’t want that bat out of the lineup in the seventh,” manager Brad Ausmus said afterward. “As a matter of fact, when the seventh was over, I think if he went 1-2-3 (the next inning), then in the ninth we would’ve had Victor on deck (if somebody got on base). That’s a huge difference when Miguel Cabrera’s hitting.”

Nor, however, did the plan involve leaving Martinez as an easy out at the plate if Yoenis Cespedes could follow J.D. Martinez with a single.

“Victor, we all know he’s dealing with an injury right now and on top of that, he’s not the fastest guy,” J.D. Martinez said. “Talking to [first-base coach] Omar [Vizquel] about it when I was at first, I said, ‘If they send him, are we going?’ He said, ‘Yeah, go, get in a pickle.’ Pickle, rundown.”

In an inning with a couple different examples of smart baserunning, that was a good one.

When asked if he was confident he’d score, Victor Martinez said, “I don’t know about confident, but I know that it was going to be a good run for us late in the game, especially the way those two guys were pitching. It was a good play by J.D., though. He did the best thing to stay in the rundown and make sure that I score.”

Ausmus did not want to take Victor Martinez’s bat out of the lineup with the potential to have him up in a tie game in the ninth. Whether and when he’s taking Martinez out of the lineup is going to be worth following the next few days.

“There’s a plan in place, and I won’t get into specifics, but hopefully it works,” Ausmus said.

Monday marked Martinez’s third consecutive start against a left-handed pitcher. Tuesday marks the first of three consecutive right-handed starting pitchers for the Yankees against Detroit, beginning with Nathan Eovaldi.

Batting left-handed has been troublesome for Martinez and his left knee. It was a point of discussion for Ausmus and others Monday.

“There have been some times when we’ve had to tell him not to hit left-handed,” Ausmus said, “and then there are days when he’s felt strong enough to do it, and we let him take some swings.”

He has swings that look ugly batting left-handed, that look agonizing on the surgically repaired knee. He also has swings that produce base hits, six of them (all singles) in 22 at-bats against righties. He has good days and bad, but they have to determine whether the bad ones are playable.

“We’re going to play it by ear, see how he is,” Ausmus said. “I don’t know how much we can dive into it with Victor. He’s not 100 percent. He’s got the ability to hit. We hope that it heals while we’re doing this, but if it gets to a point where it’s not healing anymore, then we’ll do something else.”

Even playing it by ear, it would seem to be a major surprise if Martinez plays three games in a throw batting primarily left-handed. It would be more shocking if Martinez didn’t play at all the next few games. The trick the Tigers have to figure out, or outline, is where they could sit in between.

Play of the game: Since there’s already a defensive category below, the play goes to Rajai Davis tagging up from first base in the seventh inning on Ian Kinsler’s fly ball into the left-field corner, a play Davis said he was confident he could make. “I would challenge anyone on that one, no matter who they were,” Davis said. “As deep as that ball was, he’d have to make a perfect throw.”

Out of the game: Iglesias’ play and throw across his body on a hop to rob Brett Gardner on a ground ball in the hole in the sixth inning is the highlight defensive play of the Tigers’ homestand so far. “That’s a tough play, especially with Gardner running,” Ausmus said, “because he’s a legitimate speed guy, a Major League steal threat type guy. And I know Iglesias was playing him a little bit in because of his speed, but to make that play and get a runner like Gardner was pretty impressive. That’s probably the best play we’ve seen from him all season.

Strategery: J.D. Martinez induced the rundown between second and third that left no play on Victor Martinez at the plate with the go-ahead run. “Talking to [first-base coach] Omar [Vizquel] about it when I was at first, I said, ‘If they send him, are we going?’ He said, ‘Yeah, go, get in a pickle.'”

Line of the game: Alfredo Simon improved to 3-0 by tossing 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on seven hits, walking none and striking out seven.

Stat of the game: Alfredo Simon induced 11 ground-ball outs and no fly-ball outs, according to MLB.com Gameday.

22 Comments

I was expecting than answer but ahead and with Soria? no trust in the Bullpen or JD and Cespedes
They pitched to Miguel with a runner on second but not to VMart ,so he has a point

Most games are lost, not won. Casey Stengel
The bunt by the Yankees prevented a rally and delayed the call to the suspicious bullpen

Well we got lucky–real lucky.
No way Victor should have been left in to run for himself in the 7th. But, somehow it worked out.
And Joba the Jubilant should thank his lucky stars on the DP started by Kinsler.
The box score shows Joba getting the ground ball DP but the reality score was that should have been a screaming hit up the middle and another run for the Yanks.
Kinsler made a heluva play on that one.

Kinsler’s positioning was important. they were aligned in double play depth, pinched toward 2nd base. that ball gets thru if they’re ‘infield in.’ Ausmus did mention in postgame that hard hit ball in that situation was blessing in disguise…easier to turn 2 on a fast runner

Remember all the talk in ST about having Gose or Davis on the bench for those situations?

settle down there dan, you gotta have a competent driver to take advantage of a powerful car

it’s not like we have a HOFer behind the wheel anymore

I agreed with Brad 100% on not using a pinch runner in the 7th inning of a tie game, and his explanation of it made perfect sense.
There is a 70% chance that Cespedes makes the final out of the inning, The HOFer would have used Don Kelly to pinch run and Kelly would have been hitting behind Cabrera when the 9th inning rolled around.
Good teams take advantage of their luck and execute. It’s a W.

Without question that is what would have happened! And if the hit by JD off the glove of the SS doesn’t get away as much as it did – Vmart is thrown out at home. HECK, Vmart not getting hurt running that hard was probably a small miracle (since he can hardly swing without a wince of pain). In my book, Vmart getting to bat in the 9th is not worth season ending leg injury…especially since he can’t run anyhow and represents the tying run.

this situation is 2nd guessers delight. the counter argument is if they ran for VMartinez, JDMartinez doesn’t give himself up on bases, inning is extended, and another opportunity to add on runs

on a side note, JD shouldn’t have given himself up like that….

on a side note – JD did the right thing. His coach said to do it. It was a smart play to force the throw away from VMart if you keep him in the game.

force? hah – if they had thrown the ball to home they wouldn’t have gotten either player out.

jim leyland moon walks faster than Vmart right now!

What a pleasant surprise to see Greene and Simon get off to strong starts! Both have been going deep into games with low pitch counts too. Doesn’t hurt having Iggy & Kinsler behind you either turning 4 DP’s. Go Lobstein!

It is risky leaving VMart in there like that – I was listening in the car when they sent him from 2nd but can only assume they should have had a play at the plate. I will have to look at highlight videos to see if the running by JD distracted them and that is how he scored. If so then terrific idea to get that go ahead run in. I just cannot believe the pitching for us so far. Soria is so calm cool and collected out there. No way Nathan should return at all. part of me wonders if he is even hurt and this is a good way to get him out of the lineup and save face. Guess we will see when he returns to the lineup

the numbskulls on ESPN said Vmart would have scored anyway – and for once they were right.

Pingback: 10th blogaversary! Join the party at MLB.com/blogs « MLB.com Blogs

Re Victor’s knee in general, I was surprised at how fast he came back from the surgery. I assumed they knew what they were doing, but perhaps not in this case.
With a new season and a new contract, there was no rush IMO.

even if it was VMart who wanted to come back — a good Skipper isn’t so short-sighted. And furthermore, why is he batting behind Miggy and not further down in the lineup? every swing: he winces in pain – i shake my head.

Can someone help me understand why Vmart can’t just keep hitting from the right hand side of the plate even with right handed pitching? I get the fact that ideally you alway’s want a switch hitter hitting with the odds in his favor but if Victor can’t hit without pain from the left hand side, stay hitting from the right. Still better than anyone else on our bench. Why doesn’t anyone, anywhere seem to make that suggestion?

Can’t continue to walk em Lobber

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s