J.D. Martinez’s homer lifts Tigers to 6-2 win over Astros

DETROIT — J.D. Martinez is past any hard feelings against the Houston Astros.

That doesn’t mean he’s going to stay making them pay for last year’s roster blunder. 

Friday, Martinez hit a three-run homer in the third inning that helped the Tigers beat Houston 6-2.

The home run came one pitch after he had narrowly missed hitting one down the left-field line, the ball curving foul at the last second. Having seen his 73-mph curveball pulled 350 feet, Collin McHugh came back with a 91-mph fastball, only to see Martinez drive deep into the right-field stands.

"I feel like when I’m hitting the ball well, I’m hitting it the opposite way," Martinez said. "If you watch Miggy hit, he stays inside everything, and he’s a guy that I look up to, and really try to follow as much as I can — the way he goes about hitting a baseball.

"One thing I picked up from him is that you hit offspeed pitches to left and fastballs to right and right center. That will keep you in between everything."

The surprising Astros still lead the AL West by 4 1/2 games after years of bad baseball, but they know they could be ever better with Martinez in the lineup. Luckily for the Tigers, they gave away that chance.

Two weeks before a 2014 season that would see them go 70-92 with weak-hitting Robbie Grossman playing left field, Houston released Martinez. Two days later, the Tigers signed him.

A month later, after he spent 17 games crushing Triple-A pitching, Martinez was in Detroit and he hasn’t looked back. In 165 games with Detroit — a couple more than a full season — he is hitting .302 with 32 and 97 RBIs.

"It’s nice to hit a homer against anyone, but against the Astros — I don’t know, I feel like I squashed that last year," he said. "Everything happens for a reason, and I’m here now, trying to help the Tigers win games."

Last season, he helped them win a division title, and after a 0-25 slump, he’s hitting .383 in his last 13 games.

"It always feels good to be hitting," he said. "When you are on a good team, you are always trying to contribute. I’m relaxed right now and I’m sticking to my plan."

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