Victor Martinez just may have hit the most important home run of the Tigers’ season, lifting Detroit to a 4-3 victory over the wild card rival Baltimore Orioles.
The victory puts the Tigers back in a tie with the O’s for the second wild card spot. Detroit needed to win two of three over the weekend just to ensure it didn’t fall two (or more) games behind in the playoff hunt.
Martinez took a 2-2 fastball from Baltimore reliever Brad Brach in the eighth inning just far enough to right-center field to allow for a slow trot around the bases. (Video here!) The Tigers had just blown a one-run lead in the top half of the inning and found themselves in a 3-3 tie at the time of the knock.
Not that Martinez is any stranger to dramatics this year. This was his third go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later this season.
Tigers starter Michael Fulmer pitched a strong seven innings, allowing two runs on a bomb off the bat of Jonathan Schoop in his final frame. Fulmer allowed three hits and a walk while striking out five. He faced the minimum of nine batters through the first three innings before allowing a hit in the fourth.
Alex Wilson, however, vultured the win after blowing the hold in the eighth as the Tigers’ bullpen continued its struggles. Hyun-Soo Kim doubled to left when Justin Upton couldn’t quite come up with a diving grab. Pinch runner Michael Bourn scored a batter later when Adam Jones singled to left.
Fortunately for the Tigers and their fans, Francisco Rodriguez was able to hold the newfound lead in the ninth inning. Rodriguez recorded his 40th save, giving his six seasons of 40 or more saves in his career, a feat only surpassed by the nine of each Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.
Michael Fulmer — He’s almost like the ace the Tigers need. Well, the second ace. Justin Verlander has the the 1A spot thoroughly nailed down. Fulmer gave up just a two-run home run while pitching seven strong and should have earned the win. Not that we keep track of wins around here. But just in case the rookie of the year voters do ...
Victor Martinez — Sure he stranded five and went hitless in his first three at bats, but he hit the game-winning home run so he’s gonna get a roar.
Ian Kinsler and Cameron Maybin — Had two hits apiece.
Justin Upton’s glove -- The damage to Michael Fulmer’s line could have been worse, but Upton pulled back a home run from over the fence to close out the third inning.
Justin Upton’s bat — He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and fives stranded.
Alex Wilson — Will somebody in the Tigers’ bullpen please stand up and bridge the gap between the starter and closer without drama?!
Miguel Cabrera — Not the big cat’s best game. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.