Jordany Valdespin’s first homer of 2013 was memorable; he delivered a grand slam off Josh Wall in the bottom of the 10th to give the Mets a 7-3 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday.
It was the second walkoff slam of the year, with Baltimore’s Matt Wieters collecting the other.
Valdespin, who earlier entered the game as a pinch-hitter, got his chance to play hero after David Wright singled in Mike Baxter to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. That gave Dodgers closer Brandon League his first blown save.
The homer was Valdespin’s ninth in 233 major league at-bats. He’s started just seven games for the Mets this season, as manager Terry Collins hasn’t quite figured out how best to use him yet. Valdespin, primarily a second baseman in the minors, opened the spring playing only the infield. However, during April, he’s made all of his starts in the outfield and has yet to play an inning in the infield.
For the Dodgers, it was a tough loss, yet it came with a couple of encouraging signs. Ted Lilly, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since shoulder surgery last May, held the Mets to one run over five innings in his 2013 debut. Also, the struggling Matt Kemp hit his first homer, a two-run shot off Matt Harvey. It was just the second homer surrendered by Harvey 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/.359/.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.