By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Of the batters in the heart of the Detroit Tigers order, designated hitter Victor Martinez might be the one people would least expect to be intentionally walked twice in a game.
Thursday, that is exactly what happened. First baseman Prince Fielder hit doubles in the third and fifth innings, and when Martinez followed, Seattle went ahead and just gave him first base.
Part of the Mariners’ strategy can be attributed to the fact that Martinez entered the game hitting .362 since the All-Star break. Another side was the Seattle skipper’s familiarity with Martinez’s ability.
After all, Martinez played for Cleveland from 2003 to 2009, the same stretch Eric Wedge managed the Indians.
Martinez spoke fondly of his former skipper after the game and seemed pleased and humbled at Wedge’s decision to intentionally walk him not once, but twice.
“I guess he’s got a big amount of respect for me,” Martinez said. “I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him and the rest of his staff. Maybe this is the right word to say – I kind of grew up with him and the staff in Cleveland. I guess, I don’t know, I guess he saw a lot from me in Cleveland. I have a huge amount of respect for Wedge and the rest of his staff.”
The box score reveals that Wedge’s decisions to walk Martinez were clearly solid. In the two at bats when Martinez was not intentionally walked, he hit RBI doubles – not just once, but twice.
“I just went out there and looked for a good pitch to hit and just made sure that I put a good swing in,” Martinez said. “I just did it. I always say I’d rather be lucky than good.”
In the minds of his teammates, Martinez is much more than lucky, and he is much more than good.
“He’s been great,” first baseman Prince Fielder said. “Obviously he’s been hitting outstanding. That’s just – that’s what he does.”
“It was a great comeback,” Fielder added. “It was tough. He missed a year, so everyone expected him to kind of get in the swing of things, and he’s done that by a lot. It’s always good to see that.”
Right field Torii Hunter also pointed out Martinez’s second-half resurgence. After compiling a line of .258/.314/.380 for his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage before the All-Star break, Martinez was .362/.407/.469 in the 57 games since then entering Thursday’s game.
“Victor’s still Victor,” Hunter said. “He’s a professional hitter. He waits for his pitch, and then if he gets one in the zone where he’s looking, he’s going to capitalize on it. He’s been doing that all second half. He’s top 10 in every category in the second half, so I definitely think it was better off that they walked him.”