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.