Martinez hits solo shot, grand slam in first Comerica Park game since Sept. 28
By Jordan Horrobin
DETROIT -- When the game finally ended, J.D. Martinez's huge performance mattered little. But in just his fourth game since returning from a sprain of the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot, Martinez continued to show how valuable he is in the Tigers' lineup.
After three games on the road against the Angels, Martinez used his homecoming to ignite the offense in what was a 13-inning, 13-11 loss to Baltimore. In his first game back at Comerica Park since Sept. 28, Martinez torched the Orioles for two home runs, five RBIs and four walks.
His first home run was a solo shot to right field, on an 88.1-mph fastball on the outer edge of the plate. The second homer, a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh, was on a fastball located right down the middle. He hit it 425 feet with an exit velocity of 109.8 mph, according to Statcast™.
The grand slam pulled Detroit ahead, 8-7, in a game they once trailed 7-1. The crowd rose to its feet for Martinez as he trotted the bases and urged for him to reappear for a curtain call after he entered the dugout.
"A lot of times, when you're down 7-1, that can be tough," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "But guys continued to put good at-bats together. Obviously with the big grand slam with J.D., that was exciting."
Between the two home run at-bats, seven of the eight pitches Martinez saw were fastballs. Eventually, and perhaps just in time, the Orioles decided to stop pitching to him. They intentionally walked him twice in extra innings -- which loaded the bases both times -- and escaped the jams.
"He was a guy that had good power," Avila said. "And he's made himself into someone that can hit on a consistent basis and repeat his swing and take advantage of that power."
Pitching around Martinez was enough to quiet Detroit's offense in the late innings, but not before he showed another example of how potent he can be when he's healthy. In four games this season, he's 6-for-12 with four home runs and a .647 on-base percentage.
Martinez has shown power to all fields, too. Both home runs on Tuesday hit by the right-hander were sent to the opposite field. He now has 27 opposite-field home runs in the Statcast™ era, which is second-most for right-handed hitters and third for all players. Only Baltimore's Chris Davis (34) -- who homered twice in the game -- and Oakland's Khris Davis (31) have more.
Martinez said he still feels some pain in his right ankle, and that that's something he'll just have to deal with for the time being. Pain or no pain, he's made an immediate impact to a Tigers offense that had missed him dearly.
"He's going to be big for us going down the stretch as well," Avila said. "I'm glad he's on our side, because typically when he's in the box, damage is going to happen."
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.