Since Victor Martinez confirmed last week that this was, as everyone expected, his final season in the major leagues, tributes to a fine career are starting to trickle in. It’s also a time to reassess his eight years in Detroit, specifically. While there was some good, and some...WAIT. Victor Martinez bunt single against the shift, y’all!
That’s right, he did it again. With one out in the sixth inning and the full shift in effect, Martinez took a soft sinker from Kyle Hendricks on the outer half of the plate and smoothly bunted it out toward third base for a single. The internet approved.
Victor Martinez reaches base on a bunt single. It's true. I saw it.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) August 22, 2018
VICTOR MARTINEZ BUNT SINGLE AGAIN— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 22, 2018
Victor Martinez last 28 days: .329 batting average, .800-plus OPS. They're not exactly rolling him into September on a gurney.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 21, 2018
You know who else approved? A guy I met at a bar in St. Ignace this weekend. Research has conclusively shown that for every shift played, there is a guy in every bar in the Midwest, and probably in all of the country [Ed.: And definitely in our comments section], complaining that no one knows how to hit anymore.
There will be plenty of time this offseason to look back at Martinez’s time with the Tigers. Chris McCosky at the Detroit News already has a nice piece out on the veteran designated hitter’s reflections on the Detroit years and hopes for the future. We can bemoan the second contract some more, or perhaps to wonder at his incredible 2014 season because where did that even come from? Voters are crazy, but Martinez finished second in the AL MVP voting to Mike Trout! We can re-litigate whatever it was that happened to rot the ground from beneath the 2017 squad. There will be retrospectives all over the place.
For now, Martinez is just doing his damnedest to go out his way. That’s not an opportunity many players get in this game anymore, so it’s good to see him contributing.
Gardy is just happy to be here
Manager Ron Gardenhire’s post-game comments were typically wry, but he saved his best line for Victor Martinez. Gardenhire talked about the influence Martinez has on his younger teammates and expressed his appreciation for the veteran leadership. But when asked if he had called for the bunt Martinez laid down on Tuesday night, Gardenhire made it clear that Martinez has carte blanche to make his own calls out there.
On the postgame show someone asked Gardenhire if bunting against the shift is encouraged from the dugout and he said “I don’t give a fuck what he does”— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) August 22, 2018
Norris rehabs, Fulmer returns?
There is some help on the horizon. Michael Fulmer is slated to make his next start on Friday, August 24. The only question is whether it will be for the Tigers or the Mud Hens. If he is good to go and pitch at Toledo, there’s nothing standing in his way of pitching for the Tigers either, but we’ll see how the club plays it.
Meanwhile, Daniel Norris was solid in his rehab assignment with the Lakeland Flying Tigers on Tuesday. With his pitch count building up, the Tigers will soon face a decision on whether to assign him to Detroit, perhaps via Toledo, or shut him down for the year. As it happens, the Tigers have an opening for a starting pitcher.
Last medical update: Daniel Norris is up to 75 pitches and it's possible his next rehab start will be with Toledo. Gardy said organization will decide soon whether to call him up in Sept. or shut him down till spring— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) August 21, 2018
The heavens had a treat for everyone during a pre-game tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who passed away last week.
I have seen the AL Central’s future
And it is terrifying in the form of White Sox top prospect, Michael Kopech. Here are some frightening tweets to haunt our dreams of future divisional dominance.
Michael Kopech, Filthy 83mph Slider.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 22, 2018
First MLB K.
[Sano, Not his First MLB Sword. ] pic.twitter.com/7krCgFFkqq
Michael Kopech, Disgusting 91mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/2WjmLocwup— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 22, 2018
Yeah, this is the guy who tops 100 mph regularly, and has a fourseam spin rate comparable to Justin Verlander. Hope for ongoing command issues...
Around the horn
Are you obsessed with the physics of the bounce throw from the outfield? Because the Hardball Times has you covered. Justin Verlander picked up win number 200 on Monday night. Jay Jaffe, FanGraphs resident Hall of Fame expert and the creator of JAWS (the Hall of Fame ranking system), takes a deep dive into what 200 means for the Tigers, and now, alas, Houston Astros legend.
Baseball is awesome
Where else do you get to be a hero for your kid? At least, until the next time you tell them no...