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.
The Seattle Mariners and the St. Louis Cardinals have made a minor trade. Seattle has acquired lefty Marco Gonzales from the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
Gonzales, the Cardinals’ first round pick out of Gonzaga back in 2013, is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. It’s been a good season, in which he has posted a 2.78 ERA and 64/17 K/BB ratio over 74.1 innings across two minor league levels. He’s pitched one game for St. Louis this year and got shelled, but we’ll leave that go.
O’Neill is a third rounder from 2013. He has hit .269/.344/.505 in five minor league seasons. He’s holding his own in Triple-A this year, smacking 19 homers in 93 games.
I’ve been out of the baseball card game for a good long time, but despite this — maybe because of this — I enjoy the posts from SABR’s Baseball Card Committee. A lot of that is old time stuff that old men like me enjoy — check out the airbrushing on the “Traded” cards! — but they talk about new cards too. Definitely worth your time if cards are now or have ever been your bag.
Today there’s an interesting post, pointing out something most of us wouldn’t have otherwise noted: Topps has dropped Chief Wahoo from Indians card designs. They’re doing it for the old Braves “screaming Indian” logo as well, though the Braves no longer use that themselves.
They’re not airbrushing these logos out of photos of players — that would be Orwellian even for my extreme Wahoo-hating tastes — but in card designs which have team logos, Topps is using the block-C logo, not Wahoo, and the Braves “A” logo in place of the old logo. This includes throwback issues like the Heritage sets which put modern players on card designs from the 1950s-1960s and on simple retro designs like their 1987 variations. Any cards which once featured Wahoo on the border or on the back now features the block-C.
As you may or may not know, Topps is now the official card producer for Major League Baseball. As such, I take their doing this as a sign that MLB is continuing the slow process of de-Chiefing in whatever areas it has ultimate say.
Now if only the Indians themselves would get on board.