Martinez still struggling, Tigers fall to Brewers 3-2
DETROIT (AP) — Victor Martinez hustled down the line as quickly has his knees would allow, trying to avoid the double play that would slow Detroit’s rally.
The play was a close one — he was called out — and then the veteran designated hitter came up limping.
“If I’m playing, it’s because I’m able to go out there and put good swings and good at-bats,” he said. “Like I said before, it’s not excuse, the knee or anything like that.”
Martinez’s double play in the eighth inning capped another hitless night for the Detroit slugger, and the Tigers went on to lose 3-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night. Martinez is hitting .216 after offseason knee surgery, and it’s not clear what adjustments Detroit might make if he keeps slumping.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he wasn’t about to send Yoenis Cespedes up as a pinch-hitter when Martinez came up with men on first and second and no outs in the eighth.
“It wasn’t a consideration,” Ausmus said. “Part of baseball is understanding human beings, and we’re going to need Victor Martinez for the rest of the season.”
Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, back in the lineup a day after being beaned, wasted little time showing that he was OK. Gomez led off the game with a home run and added a tiebreaking single in the seventh.
Gomez was hit in the left earflap by a pitch from New York Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard on Sunday, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell said there wasn’t much hesitation in allowing him to play in the series opener against Detroit.
“He passed all the tests (Sunday),” Counsell said. “As long as the doctor clears everything, and he felt fine, and he wanted to play, it was OK.”
Gomez began the game with a drive to left off Kyle Lobstein (3-4). With the score tied at 2 and two outs in the seventh, Gomez singled up the middle to score Luis Sardinas from second.
Jeremy Jeffress (1-0) earned the win. Milwaukee’s Jonathan Broxton worked through the jam in the eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez finished for his eighth save in as many chances.
Martinez is 12 for 26 against left-handers this year and 12 for 85 against righties. Ausmus and Martinez both say having the switch-hitter bat right-handed full time is not an option.
After the double play, J.D. Martinez struck out to end the eighth.
With the game tied at 2, it began to rain hard in the bottom of the sixth, and although many fans cleared out of the lower seating bowl, play continued. J.D. Martinez doubled to send Miguel Cabrera to third and chase Brewers starter Mike Fiers, but Jeffress came on and struck out Rajai Davis to end the inning.
The rain let up in the seventh, although there were still flashes of lightning in the distance. The Tigers failed to turn a double play on a grounder by Sardinas, and that turned out to be crucial three batters later when Gomez came up with men on first and second. His base hit made it 3-2.
Jeffress remained in the game through the seventh before giving way to Broxton.
Fiers allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. Lobstein allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
After Victor Martinez was called out in the eighth, the play was reviewed. It was very close, but the call was not overturned.
“From that one angle I thought he was safe, but that’s why they have all these angles in New York and everything,” Broxton said. “I knew I had to make some pitches. If they did call him safe, I had to make a pitch and try to get another groundball double play.”
Brewers: Gomez and Syndergaard exchanged gracious Twitter messages after Sunday’s game. Gomez said he could tell when he watched the replay that Syndergaard was concerned.
Tigers: Detroit RHP Justin Verlander (strained triceps) threw a 45-pitch bullpen session before Monday’s game, and RHP Bruce Rondon (biceptal tendinitis) threw 25 pitches.
Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-4) takes the mound Tuesday night against Milwaukee RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-4).