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Big League Stew

Victor Martinez makes unreal behind-the-back, no-look flip to retire Jacoby Ellsbury

David Brown
Big League Stew

The talk of the Detroit Tigers-Boston Red Sox game Sunday was a different play, one in the outfield that umpires might have messed up. But let's not lose sight of the unbelievable play made by Victor Martinez at first base.

A catcher by trade, Martinez doesn't get to play the field much these days with Alex Avila and Brayan Peña behind the plate and Prince Fielder patrolling first place most of the time. But Martinez made the most of a defensive chance in the sixth inning, diving to his left to knock down a hard grounder by Jacoby Ellsbury, getting to his feet to track down the ball and flipping it — behind his back and without looking — to pitcher Drew Smyly as he covered the bag.

Just awesome. The effort was 100 percent. The flip couldn't have been more on-target. Ellsbury made the likely mistake of sliding into first, but would have been out regardless. He also made the second-best play of the sequence by patting Martinez on the left shoulder before making a right turn toward Boston's dugout. It was a proper acknowledgment of a great play.

Martinez's play wasn't the best no-look flip to first base ever — that would be pitcher Mark Buehrle of the White Sox against the Indians in 2010 — but it's probably the best of this season. And it shows that V-Mart still has it at age 34.

Now, if he can start hitting like Victor Martinez used to, it would go a long way toward helping the Tigers back into the playoffs. Because he's not going to be making plays like this every day.

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