Victor Martinez's 200th HR adds joy to frustrating season

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Victor Martinez became the sixth Venezuelan-born player to reach 200 career home runs, belting his 11th of the season down the right-field line in the first inning to put the Tigers up 2-0 Wednesday.

“It makes you feel good,” he said.

The ball was retrieved.

“They got it,” he said. “I have my first homer. I have my 100th homer, too.”

Milestone moments have been few and far between for Martinez this season. But in recent games, he’s begun to swing the bat much better.

“Despite the off-year for him, things have been trending upward in a number of areas,” Ausmus said. “The ball is coming off the bat a lot harder lately.”

Martinez said there hasn’t been any major adjustment.

“I just went out there and just try to have fun,” he said. “This year has been ... a really frustrating year, from a personal aspect. I expect a lot out of myself, and there’s a lot of times I don’t get to enjoy the game like I’m supposed to. 

“But I’m just going out there, trying to see the ball up, and put a good swing.”

Regardless of how he finishes, he doesn’t see any salvation coming from this season.

“You know what? I don’t think that it matters if I end up on a good note,” he said. “I’m really focused more on as a team. We didn’t — just not making the playoffs is failing.”

Lineup switch

The last two days, Ausmus has moved Victor Martinez back ahead of J.D. Martinez in the batting order. 

“Two reasons,” he said. “Victor has hit Jose Quintana (Tuesday’s starter) well, and I wanted to take some of the stress off J.D. He was putting more pressure on himself. I was trying to alleviate a little bit of that.”

Seems to have worked. J.D. Martinez had two hits on Tuesday and a two-run double Wednesday. 

Around the horn

Rajai Davis had three hits Wednesday, including his career-best 11th triple. Impressively, he hit the triple to left field. “Raj’s speed is game-changing when he’s on the bases,” Ausmus said. “You don’t see many triples in left field at many ballparks — and he made it easily.”

… Ausmus said reliever Alex Wilson was available to pitch, but he wanted to avoid using him if possible. Thus, Neftali Feliz closed for the second straight game. “I wanted to give him three days (off) in a row, with the off day Thursday,” Ausmus said. “He’s pitched a lot. The guy has a good year and all of a sudden the last week and a half he’s tired, has some rough outings and it ruins a good year. We will give him rest and pick our spots.”