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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hitting .232 at the end of June, Victor Martinez honing in on .300 by end of August

DETROIT — If, when Victor Martinez was hitting in the .220s in May, you thought there was some rust on the Detroit Tigers’ designated hitter after his injury-forced year in exile, you were not alone.

If, when Martinez was hitting .221 at the end of April, .228 at the end of May and .232 at the end of June, you thought it was maybe something more serious that rust, you weren’t alone.

There were plenty of folks calling for Victor Martinez to be either taken out of the No. 5 hole in the order, or out of the designated hitter spot.

If you were one of those ... you were wrong.

With a leadoff single in the second inning of Saturday’s game, Martinez is back where he always seems to end up at the end of the season: right at the .300 mark.

“You guys are the idiots that were writing about that. You guys, at the beginning of the year, when he was hitting .220, saying Victor shouldn’t be our DH, and stuff. You guys still writing that article? I think not,” Max Scherzer said with a laugh this week.

“I think we all in here believed. We all saw what Victor did. We knew he was not a .220 hitter. We saw how he was hitting, and you guys were panicking. No one in here once questioned the ability of Victor Martinez. It’s kind of funny now, watching you guys have to flip your stories, and have to write about how good Victor is now. He’s making you eat your words.”

If you doubted, grab some salsa or hot sauce. Or whatever your condiment of choice.

And dig in.

For a guy who was hitting into some abysmal luck early in the season, that luck has changed. You need to look no further than Friday’s two-run “double” — when Cleveland center fielder Michael Bourn lost a lazy fly ball in the lights, and missed it by 40 feet — to see that’s true.

The rest of it is on Martinez, who has continued to grind out at-bats all season long, no matter what his average has looked like.

“He always grinds it out. He’s unbelievable. He’s an unbelievable hitter. He hit another ball hard, and didn’t get anything to show for it. He’s locked in pretty good right now,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

“He’s a pure hitter. That’s what he is. That’s why we signed him to DH. We think he’s a really good hitter. That’s why we designated him as our hitter. We’re thrilled to have him back, and he’s swinging good now.”

It was a long road back, though, statistically.

From July 9, when he was hitting .249, Martinez would have needed to hit around .370 the rest of the way to make it back to .300 by the very end of the season. Through his first at-bat Saturday, he’d hit .393 in that span, reaching the plateau way ahead of schedule.


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