MINNEAPOLIS -- J.D. Martinez came to the Tigers late, signing a Minor League deal in the final days of Spring Training and joining the team in late April, but he has had enough late heroics to top the full season of almost any member of the team.
When Martinez pointed skyward and watched his opposite-field homer carry over the right-field overhang on Tuesday night for a go-ahead three-run homer off Twins closer Glen Perkins, he had his eighth home run in the ninth inning or later. That ties Alex Rodriguez's 2007 American League MVP heroics for the second-most ninth-inning homers in a season since 1914.
Former third baseman Tony Batista has the top mark, hitting 10 ninth-inning homers as part of his 41-homer season for the 2000 Blue Jays.
Another split further exemplifies the dramatics. Seven of Martinez's 23 home runs have in come in "Late and Close" situations, defined by baseball-reference.com as the seventh inning or later with the score tied, the hitting team ahead by one run, or trailing with the tying run at least on deck.
That ties Martinez for the second-highest total by a Tiger since 2000, trailing only Miguel Cabrera's eight "Late and Close" home runs in 2010. Cabrera also hit seven in 2008 and 2012.
Craig Monroe, now a Tigers TV analyst, hit seven in 2006.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.