Martinez laments game-ending double play

Despite confidence against Tribe closer Allen, right fielder grounds out to end game

Martinez laments game-ending double play

DETROIT -- The last time J.D. Martinez faced Cody Allen in a save situation, Martinez deposited a go-ahead three-run homer into the depths of Progressive Field. That was last September, and it was a huge win on the Tigers' road to a division title.

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In the previous save situation, he hit a game-tying home run off Allen last May. In the previous inning in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Tribe, he hit a solo shot off Bryan Shaw to bring the Tigers within a run.

Nobody knows the history better than Martinez, who notes his at-bats on paper. So he couldn't help but feel confident as he stepped to the plate against Allen in the ninth inning Saturday with the potential tying run on third and the potential winning run on first. One pitch and one double-play ground ball later, he was wondering how it could've ended that quickly.

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It was a first-pitch fastball down, but over the plate, he said.

"I went up there, and I knew what I was going to get," Martinez said after the game. "I think I got caught up in the moment instead of just slowing it down. At the end of the day, it wasn't that bad of a pitch, but I think just maybe slowing that situation down a little better and looking for a pitch a little higher in the zone [would've helped]."

If there's a major difference in Martinez's game from last year, it sits in the splits. He was a .293 hitter with runners in scoring position in 2014, hitting into just six double plays. He also drove in 16 runs in 34 at-bats with a runner on third and less than two outs.

So far, Martinez is batting 11-for-45 with runners in scoring position this season. Saturday's double play was his fifth in those situations. He has remained productive in getting the runner home from third with less than two outs, batting 5-for-12 with nine RBIs. With bases empty, he's batting .297 with seven home runs, including Saturday's drive to lead off the eighth inning, so it's hard to call it an overall slump.

He saw an opportunity in the ninth against Allen, a pitcher he knew. Regardless of the history, he said, he felt comfortable.

"I just know what his ball does, and I know what kind of to look for," he said.

Add in the history, and there's added reason for confidence. But it also might have worked against him.

"It's one of those situations," Martinez said, "where when you've had success off a guy, and you know what you've seen off of him, and he really doesn't have much that you feel like can beat you, you go up into that situation and you're anxious and excited. It's one of those things you're looking forward to, as far as going in and feeling really confident. But I think it was kind of one of those double-edged swords."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.