Tigers' J.D. Martinez lands in select company with 100th RBI

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Arlington, Texas — J.D. Martinez had been pressing. He can admit it now.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't," he said.

He has been chasing 40 home runs and 100 RBIs for weeks.

"It's one of those things, you just want to get it over with," he said. "Everyone keeps talking about it. You guys (media) keep asking me about it. You just want to put it behind you and move forward."

One down.

On a first-pitch fastball from Cole Hamels in the first inning Tuesday, he drilled a home run to right-center field. It was homer No. 38 and RBIs 100 and 101.

He is now the sixth player in Tigers history to achieve 38 homers and 100 RBIs. The others — Hank Greenberg (four times), Miguel Cabrera (three times), Cecil Fielder (twice), Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash once each.

"I am humbled by it," he said. "I thank God every day for it and I will continue to thank God. From a year ago to today, it's been quite a change. It's something I always believed I could do. I just feel blessed."

Until Tuesday, though, he had been feeling mostly stressed.

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"I think it's a little bit of a weight lifted off of him," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's been trying to get 100 RBI. Maybe now he can relax a little bit and just enjoy playing."

That's the plan, though home run No. 40 is still out there.

"It's just the grind of September," he said. "You're tired. Your team's not in it. It's hard to get that motivated. It's just one of those things where you've got to grind through at-bats and still work hard.

"Last year in September we were running on adrenaline. When you are playing for something, it's a lot different. At the same time, it's not an excuse."

On pitch counts

Rookie Daniel Norris' pitch ceiling Tuesday was 80 pitches. He needed 54 to get through the first inning. He wound up at 71 pitches when he was removed with two outs in the second.

Ausmus was asked afterward about leaving him in for so many pitches in one inning.

"It's tough because you want to get his pitch count up so in his next start he can throw more pitches," he said. "But you also don't want to extend him in one inning."

Ausmus said the last batter he faced in the first, Chris Gimenez, would have been his last had he not gotten him out. He said he still looked strong and his velocity was good. However, four batters into the second inning, and Norris was losing velocity.

The hope was that Norris could go up to 100 pitches in his final start of the season on Sunday. Now, his limit will be 90.

The Tigers have the distinction of owning all three 50-pitch innings this season – 51 by David Price on April 22 and 50 by Randy Wolf on Sept. 13. Those two, like Norris', came in the first inning.