Tigers save scrappy side for Red Sox in 7-6 win
Detroit — Victor Martinez had hit a couple of balls to the wall on Friday that were caught. He hit a bullet Saturday in the sixth inning that third baseman Pablo Sandoval dived for and snared.
So, when he lofted a change-up from Junichi Tazawa deep into the right-field sky in the seventh inning — he was holding his breath, not taking anything for granted.
"I am just glad I helped the team win and the ball didn't get caught," he said. "You want to square the ball up every time you go to the plate, but at some point you definitely want results. If you don't get them, that's when you start to get out of (sorts)."
No worries this time. The ball sailed out and the two-run home run sent the Tigers to a hard-fought 7-6 win over the Red Sox, their third win in four games.
"It's good to end up on the good side," Martinez said. "We've been having some battles and coming out on the wrong side. It feels good to pull this game out."
The Tigers fought back from deficits of 2-0, 3-2, and 6-5 Saturday, each time trying to recover from some David Ortiz-inflicted damage.
Go back to July 27 in Boston. Ortiz blasted a pair of home runs and knocked in seven runs to beat the Tigers. He hit a two-run homer Friday.
On Saturday, he had a single, double and home run and knocked in three and of course, he came to bat with two outs and nobody on in the ninth.
Manager Brad Ausmus used Bruce Rondon in the ninth inning because closer Alex Wilson was not available because of shoulder fatigue.
"Rondon's just got a different look, a different look in his eye," Ausmus said. "He looks confident. He's attacking the hitters with his fastball. He's not trying to trick them. He's going right at them. There was an intelligence in his approach, too."
The intelligence part came against Ortiz.
Rondon fanned Rusney Castillo and got Xander Bogaerts to fly out. Against Ortiz, his fastball hit 100 and then 101 mph. But when he got two strikes on him, he tried to get him to chase. He didn't give him anything he could knock out of the park.
Credit to Ortiz, who patiently took his walk.
But it was a win for Rondon and the Tigers. He struck out Sandoval to end the game to secure his first save.
"He's been throwing the ball good," Martinez said. "It's not easy to face a guy like that. He throws hard and he can dominate with his secondary stuff."
Ortiz, though, has been a menace. He hit his 21st career home run at Comerica Park, the most by any opposing player. He came into the game hitting .303 with a 1.046 OPS at Comerica.
He doubled on a 3-0 pitch from starter Alfredo Simon in the second inning and scored. He hit his 23rd home run of the season in the sixth that put the Red Sox up 3-2.
Then, with the Tigers ahead 5-4, he came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.
Left-hander Blaine Hardy took over for Simon and got two quick strikes on Ortiz. But he left the 0-2 pitch out over the plate and Ortiz rolled one up the middle for a two-run single – 6-5 Red Sox.
"I was lucky he didn't hit it out of the park," Hardy said. "I came back in and looked it, it was right down the middle."
But the Tigers kept answering Big Papi's swats.
Ian Kinsler, who had three more hits and is now hitting over .300 for the season, started
the three-run sixth with a single. J.D. Martinez doubled him home.
After Nick Castellanos singled, Martinez scored on a wild pitch. James McCann, who also had three hits, doubled in Castellanos to give the Tigers a short-lived 5-3 lead.
The at-bat of the game, though, might belong to Rajai Davis in the fifth inning.
Red Sox starter Wade Miley, mixing his off-speed pitches and a diving, 92 mph cutter, had subdued the Tigers through 4.2 innings. He had fanned Davis twice, and made him look bad both times. He dispatched him in three pitches in the first and got him looking at a change-up down the middle in the third.
He had two strikes on him again in the fifth. Davis was stretching his legs as if he wasn't comfortable between pitches.
Then he smacked a long two-run homer into the bullpen in left field to tie the game 2-2.