Tag Archive: Victor Martinez


ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

The signing of Victor Martinez in the offseason has proven to be a key reason behind the Tigers winning the AL Central this season. (B. Calloway photo)

Dave Dombrowski entered the season with his job on the line.

The  Detroit Tigers general manager was on the final year of his contract and needed to help the team get back to the postseason.

He made several key decisions that helped the Tigers win the AL Central division title – their first division crown since 1987 and first playoff berth since reaching the World Series in 2006. Here is a look at some of the decisions he made that helped get the Tigers back into the postseason.

Signing Victor Martinez in the offseason

This might be one of the single most important decisions Dombrowski made.  The Tigers had several players they could pursue to bolster their lineup with Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn and Carl Crawford also being available. The decision to bring Martinez aboard for four years looks to be the be the best move of the bunch. Dunn, who is in his 1st season in the AL, is hitting .160 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs for the White Sox. Crawford (.254, 11 HR, 18 SBs) is having a down year with the Red Sox and the same has been the case for Werth  (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIS) with the Nationals.  Meanwhile Martinez has been a leader on and off the field for the Tigers

The switch-hitting Martinez is batting .324 with 12 home runs and 102 RBIs. He has come up with a number of big hits for the Tigers and made teams pay when they pitched around Miguel Cabrera. With runners on base he is hitting .399 and .390 when they are in scoring position.

Trading for Doug Fister at the trade deadline

Since being acquired from the Mariners in July, Doug Fister is 8-1 in 10 starts for the Tigers. (AP)

The Tigers needed pitching at the deadline to bolster their chances at winning the division. Fister has been the answer. Ubaldo Jimenez was considered to be one of the highly coveted players on the market but the Tiger and Dombrowski were smart to work out a trade with Seattle for Fister instead. Jimenez has struggled with the rival Indians, while Fister has become a top of the line starter for Detroit. In 10 starts since being acquired by the Tigers on July 30, Fister is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. He has struck out 54 and walked five over 70 1/3 innings. He and likely AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander have formed a formidable 1-2 combination with a combined 14-0 record and 1.61 ERA since Aug. 16. Fister ranks fourth in the AL with a 2.83 ERA. Jimenez is 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts since the Indians acquired him from the Rockies.

Landing Wilson Betemit, Delmon Young from division rivals

Dombrowski made trades with division rivals during the season to land players that have been important pieces for the Tigers. In July, he acquired Betemit from the Royals. Betemit stepped in for the struggling Brandon Inge at third base. Betemit has hit .281 with four homers and 18 RBIs since joining the Tigers. Young was acquired in August from the Twins and has anchored left field and the No. 3 spot in the Detroit lineup. He has hit .264 with seven homers with 29 RBIs and four doubles in 38 games with the Tigers. Acquiring Young has proved as extra important with the Tigers having lost Brennan Boesch for the season with a thumb injury in August.

Acquiring Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland and re-signing him

Dombrowski acquired Peralta before the trade deadline in 2010, but the decision has made a big impact on this year’s team. Signed to a two-year contract in the offseason to play shortstop, Peralta has been a valuable contributor to the Tigers offense and has played steady defense. Peralta, who has mostly hit in the No. 6 or 7 spots in the lineup, entered Tuesday’s game hitting a career-best .301 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also has 25 doubles.

Thoughts on game 7 of 162

Welcome sight: Newcomer Victor Martinez had a key three-RBI double in the opening inning of Detroit's 5-2 win over Kansas City in Friday's home opener at Comerica Park (AP)

Victor Martinez and Max Scherzer proved to be a winning combination for the Tigers in their home opening victory over the Royals on Friday. Scherzer provided the team with a quality start and Martinez provided early offense that made the difference in the 5-2 victory for Detroit in its first game of the season against an AL Central team.

Hero / key sequence: Victor Martinez endeared himself to the Detroit fans by changing the game in his first home at-bat at Comerica Park. Martinez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the first inning and drilled a three-RBI triple to the right center field gap. That hit sparked the four-run first inning and provided all the offense the Tigers needed.

Unsung hero: Jhonny Peralta.

Peralta has quietly gotten off to a decent start offensively and added to it by driving in Detroit’s other two runs in Friday’s win. Peralta had a two-out double that plated Martinez in the opening inning and added a sacrifice fly that gave the Tigers their fifth and final run. Peralta finished 2 for 3 and is batting .333 so far this season.

Max power: Scherzer went six strong innings, giving up just one run and striking out three to improve to 2-0 on the mound this season. He only had a little trouble in the third and fourth innings. He allowed the lone run in the third on a two-out triple by Melky Cabrera. In the fourth he worked out of a bases loaded jam by getting an infield ground out to end the inning.

Today: Vs. Kansas City, 4 p.m. Reliever turned starter Phil Coke will be making his first start of 2011.

Thoughts on Game 1 of 162 for the Tigers

Hero: New York’s Curtis Granderson

Former Tiger Curtis Granderson's solo home run in the 7th inning broke a 3-3 tie and lifted the Yankees to a 6-3 win over Detroit in Thursday's season opener (AP)

Granderson was by far today’s most valuable performer. His only hit – a solo homer off reliever Phil Coke – was the one that broke a 3-3 tie and vaulted the Yankees to the opening day win. The former Tiger also made several big plays in the field – ones we were accustomed to seeing in Detroit – that helped the Yankees as well.

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First impressions

Justin Verlander carried a strong spring over into the season opener. His first start was a quality one – 6 innings pitched, just the three earned runs on three hits and eight strikeouts. Lone negative was the three-run homer he gave up to Mark Teixeira, the four walks and a 31-pitch opening inning. But the Yankees have a kind of lineup that is going to make you work.

– The bullpen wasn’t so hot today as it went three innings and surrendered three runs to the Yankees. Coke, who is temporarily being used out of the bullpen with the extra off days over the first week and a half, gave up 2 runs (1 earned) and Ryan Perry gave up one, Meanwhile the Yankees bullpen of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera combined for three scoreless innings and didn’t allow a hit.

– Victor Martinez, one of the Tigers’ big pick ups in the offseason, was 1-for-4 in his Detroit debut. He singled in the second inning.

– Alex Avila looked out of sync at the plate against CC Sabathia and fanned three times today. He also was a little shaky defensively. If Avila gets off to a slow start, you have to wonder how patient the Tigers will be with him. That also could change the lineup drastically with Victor Martinez probably catching more than a 1/3 of the games. That could open some at-bats for Brennan Boesch or Casper Wells as a DH or outfielder. Something to keep an eye on.

With that being said, this is just one game and most of Avila’s at-bats came against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. Facing CC wasn’t the best of matchups for him.

– Austin Jackson will need to cut down on the strikeouts. He showed some better pitch recognition this spring but opened the season by striking out three times

– The top three hitters in the Tigers lineup went a combined 1 for 11. Jackson’s single was the lone hit.

– A bright spot was the bottom of the Tigers lineup, which drove in 2 of the 3 runs. Jhonny Peralta had a sacrifice fly and Brandon Inge had a two-out RBI hit. Miguel Cabrera had the other RBI with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Raburn also had a nice diving catch in left field and went 1 for 3 with a walk

Up next: At Yankees, 4 p.m. Saturday