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Victor Martinez bunted to beat the shift last night

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Tigers DH Victor Martinez isn’t exactly ripping the cover off the ball to start the year. He’s hitting .239/.297/.304 through his first 101 plate appearances. Sometimes, when one is in a slump, one must find creative ways to find success, and that’s exactly what Martinez did on Monday.

The Tigers led the Indians 5-1 when the bottom of the fifth inning began. Martinez led off against Indians starter Trevor Bauer, and the infield was shifted to the right side to defend Martinez’s tendency to pull. Bauer threw a first-pitch fastball which missed his spot by about a foot. Still, Martinez bunted the ball down the third base line, where there were no Indians defenders. The bunt single was one of three hits Martinez had on the evening and the Tigers went on to win 7-1.

Martinez discussed what was going through his mind as he prepared to lay down the bunt. Via Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press:

A little scared. I really decided when (Indians pitcher Trevor) Bauer started his windup. I was like ‘Eh, I’m going for it.’ My heart was going ‘BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. I don’t know (why). I just decided. I saw Ramirez playing way over at shortstop, and I told myself, ‘If I put it there, I’ll be safe.’

Martinez added, “It was a lot of fun. Finally I get to put one down. First one of my career.”

Though a good counter to the infield shift, we aren’t seeing a commensurate increase in bunts along with the increase in infield shifting. Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Carlos Santana have made headlines this season for bunting along with Martinez, but most of the time, hitters are still going up there taking full cuts.

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.