Miami — Victor Martinez made history Wednesday doing something he truly isn’t fond of.
He’s hit a pinch-hit home run in the first two games of the season — something that, according to Elias, hasn’t been done since 1900.
“I'm going to be honest with you, and I told JV (Justin Verlander) just before the first game, I don't like pinch-hitting. I just don't like it,” he said. “You have only that one chance. I don't think it's easy to come into the middle of the game, at the end of the game. It helps when you know what you need to do to stay loose.”
Martinez, batting left-handed, hit an opposite field home run in the opener on Tuesday. He did it again in the eighth inning on Wednesday, batting right-handed. Not bad for a guy who had just one pinch-hit home run in his career before this season.
“It's pretty cool, but you know what, we're here to win ballgames,” he said. “I'm just happy I was able to help the team to win these first two games.”
In different circumstance, Martinez might have come to bat two innings earlier, with the bases loaded.
Here’s the situation:
The Tigers had opened up a 5-0 lead and chased Marlins starter Jose Fernandez out of the game in the sixth. They still had the bases loaded with two outs and pitcher Anibal Sanchez due up.
Manager Brad Ausmus didn’t hesitate. Sanchez was working on a three-hit shutout through five innings. The bullpen was used for five innings Tuesday night. The Marlins would be sending the heart of their order to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
It was a no-brainer to keep Sanchez in the game. Even Martinez wasn’t expecting to hit.
“No,” Martinez said. “Anibal was low in his pitch count and he was throwing the ball great.”
Said Ausmus: “With one out it would have been a much tougher decision. With two outs, no. I wanted to get another inning out of him. We don’t want to be short in the bullpen. You don’t know how the last three inning were going to go.”
Sanchez wound up only facing two batters in the sixth, giving up a walk and an RBI double.
“Did you know those first two batters would get on base?” Ausmus asked. “I didn’t either. I was hoping Sanchey could get through the next inning, and I was prepared if he didn’t.”
Drew VerHagen came on to finish the sixth. Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings and Francisco Rodriguez got the final out in the ninth.
Martinez got his pinch-hit home run and on Friday he will be back playing in American League parks and getting four or five swings a game.
It was a win-win-win.