Home plate umpire Gary Darling gets between Oakland's pitcher Grant Balfour (50) and Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the American League Division Series. (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)
Detroit – The A’s ticked off Victor Martinez.
And then the Tigers designated hitter got hot.
No clue if there’s a connection between the two. But after Martinez and A’s closer Grant Balfour had a profanity-laced screaming match in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Martinez went 6-for-9.
“Note to self,” A’s general manager Billy Beane told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Don’t make Victor mad.”
Martinez, 34, and Balfour got into it after Martinez fouled off a pitch. He stared out to the mound a little long for the pitcher’s liking, and Balfour barked, “What the (bleep) are you looking at?” That didn’t sit well, and soon the benches had cleared.
Maybe it was the spark the Tigers needed.
The offense looked lifeless through three games against the A’s, then perked up big-time in Game 4 and just enough in Game 5 as the Tigers rallied from down 2-1 to win the best-of-five series.
For the series, Martinez was the Tigers best hitter; he was 9-for-20 – including a huge, tying home run to right field in the seventh inning of Game 4.
“Man, I’ve never seen Victor go oppo (opposite field) like that from the right side,” Torii Hunter said, laughing. “That might’ve been some frustration.”
The Tigers start the American League Championship Series tonight at Fenway Park in Boston, where Martinez, by the way, also has history. He played with the Red Sox the second half of 2009 and all of 2010 before signing with the Tigers as a free agent.
Martinez is a.317 hitter at Fenway Park, with 15 homers and 83 RBIs in 111 games.