Victor Martinez isn’t exactly known for his defense at first base, but the Tigers’ DH was happy to show it off in the sixth inning of today’s game against the Red Sox. With one out and the bases empty, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury pulled a grounder that was destined for the corner in right field. Martinez dove to his left, knocking the ball down. As the ball slowly rolled away and Ellsbury thundered towards the first base bag, Martinez made the only possible play: he checked for pitcher Drew Smyly covering the bag, then reached for the ball and flipped it behind his back for the out.
For a full-time DH and former catcher who has logged all of 79 defensive innings at first base over the last two seasons, this is a very impressive play.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.