October 11, 2011
A screencap may be worth a thousand words, but this shot of Victor Martinez(notes) entering the Detroit Tigers dugout during Tuesday night's 5-2 victory over the Texas Rangers doesn't come close to telling the whole story.
It was only moments earlier in the fourth inning of ALCS Game 3 that Detroit's designated hitter had pulled a Colby Lewis(notes) pitch into Comerica Park's right field stands. A game-tying homer like this one would normally set off a raucous celebration among his teammates, but Martinez's reaction — he fell toward the ground after hitting the homer and then labored around the bases — immediately turned the Tigers' mood tense.
Martinez greeted Don Kelly(notes) in the on-deck circle with a subdued fist bump that suggested he had just hit a routine sac fly in the middle of July, then made his way down the stairs where pitcher Justin Verlander(notes) withdrew his fist offering when he saw that Martinez wasn't in the mood.
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Martinez then made his way toward the tunnel to the clubhouse where he angrily slammed his helmet into the ground before disappearing.
It's not exactly the type of reaction that you expect in the wake of such a momentum-changing hit, but you can certainly understand Martinez's frustration and his teammate's solemn reception. From Brennan Boesch(notes) to Magglio Ordonez(notes) to Delmon Young(notes) to Alex Avila(notes) (who is banged up, but still playing), the Tigers' power source has been sapped through injury. They can't afford to see another of their bats go down.
The good news —at least initially — was that Martinez was able to take his at-bat in the fifth inning and draw a walk. He hit again in the seventh without incident, lifting a fly ball to center field.
The postgame diagnosis was not as optimistic, however. Manager Jim Leyland said Martinez had hurt his intercostal muscle and that was he "concerned."
"He got through it tonight and hopefully he'll be able to get through it," Leyland said. "But if he can't? We'll play somebody else. That's who we are ... and that's what you do this time of year. You find a way to win."
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