Cleveland, OH (WKZO) – It took a little longer than expected but Victor Martinez is starting to return to the V-Mart of 2011. After sitting out the 2012 with a knee injury, Martinez had been rusty to say the least during the first half of the season. But now Martinez is the midst of a 10 game hitting streak with the biggest hit of that streak coming on Monday night, a two-run double off Matt Albers in the 10th inning to give the Tigers a 4-2 win over the Indians in the final game of their 11 game road trip.
With two outs Albers walked Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder before Martinez blasted a 0-1 pitch over centerfielder Michael Bourn’s head, driving in both runners.
However the Indians wouldn’t go down quietly. In their half of the 10th they put two runners on but Joaquin Benoit struck out Mike Aviles to end the game, while picking up his seventh save in as many opportunities. Drew Smyly got the win, his fourth win of the year after recording all three outs in the ninth inning.
Martinez not only drove in the final two runs but also scored the first run of the game after back-to-back doubles from him and Jhonny Peralta put the Tigers atop the scoreboard 1-0 in the second inning. During his 10 game hitting streak, V-Mart is 16-41 (.390) and has raised his batting average from .225 to .245 during that span.
Looking to become the first pitcher in baseball to start a season 14-0 since Roger Clemens did so in 1986, Max Scherzer didn’t factor into the decision after going seven innings, while allowing seven hits and three walks but struck out seven. And while he couldn’t become the first pitcher in baseball to record 14 wins to start a season before suffering a loss in 27 years, he did become the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2000 to strike out six or more in 18 consecutive starts. Scherzer still has a ways to go if he wants to catch Martinez’s streak of 28 straight games with six or more punch-outs.
The Indians scored both of their runs off Scherzer in the second inning after a 21-minute rain delay. Before the delay Scherzer gave up two singles and while Lonnie Chisenhall was up, the umps determined the rain to be too strong and called for the tarp to come out. After the rain let up, Scherzer returned to the mound and on the first pitch after the delay, Chisenhall hit a single scoring both runners and putting the Indians in the lead 2-1.
But the Indians lead didn’t last long. In his return to the lineup after being activated from the 15-day DL, Matt Tuiasosopo hit his fourth home run of the year in the fourth inning, a solo shot tying the game at two.
Bruce Rondon tossed a scoreless eighth for the Tigers, who won for just the third time in 12 extra inning games. The Tigers are now 10 games above .500 (49-39) and lead the Indians by 3.5 games in the AL Central.
Detroit ended their 11 game road trip 7-4 and now head home for six games before the All-Star Game. The Tigers face the Chicago White Sox for the first time this season in their return to Comerica Park on Tuesday night. Justin Verlander (9-5, 3.54 ERA) gets the start in the opener against Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.69). First pitch is set for 7:08.