J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez homer, lead Tigers past Indians
JUN 20, 2014 10:39p ET
Ten years ago this month, the Pistons won a championship with Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.
It's happening again, but this time, the t-shirts will have to feature an Olde English "D" alongside the pictures of Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez.
Both Martinezes homered Friday in Cleveland, driving in five runs in Detroit's 6-4 victory. J.D. Martinez's homer gave the Tigers what looked like a comfortable 5-0 lead, but turned out to be crucial after Ian Krol allowed four runs in the eighth.
"It seems like every time we play the Indians, they do that -- you never get an easy win against them," J.D. Martinez said. "I was just looking for a pitch over the middle where I could take a nice, short swing. I got one, the ball hit my bad, and that was pretty much it."
While no one could have expected this kind of power from Victor Martinez -- he's on pace for 42 homers despite having never hit more than 25 -- it isn't a surprise that he is having a great season with the bat. He's a career .304 hitter and Brad Ausmus said he's never been around a player with better focus.
This season, though, the added power has prevented teams from being able to pitch around Miguel Cabrera.
"When we started the season, I said that the only person who could protect Miguel is Miguel, but I have to amend that," Ausmus said. "It turns out that the only two people that can protect Miguel are Miguel and Victor."
J.D. Martinez, though, has come out of nowhere. After spending parts of three seasons with Houston and never doing anything impressive, he didn't have a job for 2014 until he ended up with the Toledo Mud Hens.
He got off to a great start, hitting 10 homers in the first three weeks of the season, and when it became obvious that Andy Dirks wasn't returning any time soon, he got the call to Detroit. It took a while for him to get going, and on June 6, he was hitting just .242 with three homers.
Since then, though, he has put together a 10-game hitting streak and Friday's homer was his fourth in five games.
"He's really crushing the ball right now," Krol said. "It's fun to watch, because he's just unconscious out there right now."
At the moment, it hasn't been hard for Ausmus to keep him in the lineup, because he's been playing rightfield every day as Torii Hunter recovers from a hamstring problem.
Hunter, though, has struggled at the plate in June and become a liability in the outfield, so Ausmus will have a decision to make when he's ready to play, and he and Dave Dombrowski will have an even bigger choice when Dirks comes off the disabled list. Clearly, it won't be Martinez going back to Toledo, which means Don Kelly's Tigers career could be in jeopardy once again.
In the meantime, though, Ausmus is just going to enjoy having J.D. Martinez making teams think twice about pitching around Victor Martinez -- a move that Terry Francona had to have regretted Friday when he intentionally walked Victor only to see J.D. hit a three-run homer on the next pitch.
"You see guys get into a hot streak like this and you just hope he's hot again tomorrow," Ausmus said. "Hopefully, it keeps on rolling."