Bob Wojnowski and Chris McCosky discuss the improving Tigers, the 9-11 start and what to expect from key players in the coming weeks.
Pittsburgh – Leonys Martin looked as if he had been struck by lightning.
For a few agonizing moments, he would have preferred the electric bolt.
Leading off the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at PNC Park, Martin swung at a Chad Kuhl pitch and fouled it straight into his groin.
He remained on the ground for long minutes, the pain all but paralyzing him. He finally stood as manager Ron Gardenhire and team trainer Doug Teter counseled and sympathized. He began to take steps. He loosened up. And long minutes later, after having assured Gardenhire he was not coming out of the game, he stepped back into the batter’s box.
And then he hit a long home run into the right-field balcony seats, the first run in a crazy game the Tigers won, 13-10.
“Oh my God, it was the worst pain I’ve ever been through in baseball,” said Martin, who had a follow-up act, minus the groin calamity, in Wednesday’s second game, when he torched another pitch and drove it nearly out of PNC Park in a duel the Tigers lost to the Pirates, 8-3.
“I was on the ground waiting for the pain to go away,” said Martin, who has been one of the Tigers’ grand surprises, at the plate and in center field, during their first month of the regular season. “I got back on track and got a good at-bat.”
Martin had a bunt single, as well, in the first game. He shares the team-lead in home runs with four.
Another of the Tigers’ plus performers through 22 games has been third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who left no base untouched Wednesday as he hit a homer, double, and single in the first game, then followed with a triple in the later contest.
Candelario is batting .290 and his four homers are tied with Martin.
“I’m just separating really early and recognizing pitches,” said Martin, meaning he’s been quick with his stroke, and picking up flight paths and rotations on whatever pitchers have been tossing at him. “I’m gonna be ready for a mistake.”
Candelario said he realized later in Wednesday’s second game, after he had driven a triple to left-center, that he had managed one of a hitter’s ultimate goals, albeit in two piggy-backed games.
“I said, ‘You know what?’” Candelario recounted. “’You hit for a cycle.’”
The Tigers returned Mike Gerber to Triple A Toledo following Wednesday’s second game.
Gerber had been brought aboard as bench protection when the Tigers were obliged to forego the designated hitter at a National League park.
They will make a roster add-on Thursday, which is anticipated to be a pitcher, likely either Blaine Hardy or Johnny Barbato.
Gerber pinch-hit in each game Wednesday. He grounded into a force play and struck out.
The Tigers also returned Artie Lewicki to Toledo following Wednesday’s second game during which Lewicki pitched one inning, allowing a pair of runs.
Lewicki was brought on Wednesday as a 26th player, which teams are permitted to add on days they play doubleheaders.