Someone did in fact flirt with a no-no in the Bronx tonight, but it wasn’t Johan Santana after he threw 134 pitches last week in the first no-hitter in Mets history. Hiroki Kuroda held the Mets hitless for 5 2/3 innings Friday in the Yankees’ 9-1 victory.
Santana, who had thrown back-to-back shutouts against the Padres and Cardinals, was lit up for six runs in five innings in this one. He surrendered four homers, matching his total for the season entering the night.
Robinson Cano hit two of the four homers, giving him 11 on the season. Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones went back-to-back-to-back off Santana with two outs in the third inning.
Still, it was Kuroda who shined brightest in this one, facing the minimum for 5 2/3 before Omar Quintanilla doubled into the left-center gap. It was the only hit he allowed on the night before a bruised foot forced him to depart after the seventh.
As for Santana, he had his typical velocity tonight after getting a couple of extra days of rest, but not his location, as he left too many pitches up in the strike zone. He’s now 3-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 12 starts this season.
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.