Tigers baserunning charge led by — Victor Martinez?
Minneapolis — There were two Tigers in particular who did a lot of running Tuesday night — one was Cameron Maybin, which you would expect.
The other was Victor Martinez, which you certainly would not expect.
Martinez had three hits and scored three times in the 8-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.
He had an infield single in the second inning, was chased to third base on a double by Miguel Cabrera, and was able to walk home when Maybin drew a walk with the bases loaded.
In the sixth inning he singled, went to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a single and trudged home on another wild pitch.
His last time up he could trot — he blasted his 23rd home run of the year, a no-doubter to right field.
“I’m always cringing when he runs hard down the line,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But he made it. And a big home run. It’s easier for him to run on home runs than infield singles.”
Martinez didn’t want to talk about the running, only the win.
“It felt good to win a ball game,” he said.
Maybin, who is playing through a lot of discomfort and pain in his left thumb, walked to lead off the fifth inning. The Tigers were trailing 2-1 at the time.
He immediately stole second base, sliding head first and reaching out for the bag with his left hand.
“Not at the time,” he said when asked if he thought about the pain he might cause himself with the slide. “When I got up I was like, ‘Man, what are you doing?’
“(Brian) Dozier kind of blocks the bag anyway so, with him I’m definitely going to have to go feet first if I decide to go again. I have to go feet first. That was stupid.”
In the sixth inning he produced a clutch two-out, two-run single the put the Tigers up 5-3.
“It’s nice to hit homers but two-out singles or two-out ribbies are huge,” Maybin said. “I learned that last year. I think I was like third in the league in two-out RBIs. It’s something that can really break a team’s back, too.”
Maybin hit .306 with runners in scoring position and two outs last season. He hit .356 with runners in scoring position overall.
He walked his first two times up and was asked if the thumb played a role in him being extra selective at the plate.
“No, I’m already kind of selective anyway,” he said. “I kind of take pride in making sure I make guys work and see pitches anyway.”
Then he paused.
“But, yeah. Probably,” he said. “When I think about it. I’m sitting there going, ‘Don’t swing at the ball, get two strikes.’ Little things like that. I think it helps me stay with my approach for sure, as far as what pitch I’m looking for that I can handle and do damage with.”
He was, however, one of two Tigers thrown out on the bases. Erick Aybar was thrown out trying to stretch his RBI single in the fifth into a double. Maybin was thrown out after his single in the sixth — though he got himself hung up between first and second on purpose — to make sure Justin Upton would score from second.
“Omar (Vizquel, first-base coach) just told me to keep going,” Maybin said. “It worked out. Better to get them two runs then just get one.”
The Tigers had two other questionable baserunning plays in the game, both involving tag-up plays from third base.
In the sixth inning, J.D. Martinez was held by third-base coach Dave Clark on a fly ball to center field by Casey McGehee that seemingly was hit deep enough for him to score.
Then in the eighth, James McCann didn’t advance from third on a foul fly to right hit by Ian Kinsler. Right-fielder Max Kepler had to reach into the stands to make the catch.
“The one with McCann is probably not deep enough to score,” Ausmus said. “But once he has to reach into the stands, I think maybe you take the chance. That really falls on the runner. The runner has to recognize that. Mac’s a young player, so he’s learning and we talked to him about it.
“The J.D. one, I think probably if we did it over, we would send him.”