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J.D. Martinez’s Simple Approach Powering Consistent Late-Inning Heroics for Detroit Tigers

July 3rd, 2015 at 8:00 AM
By Max DeMara

Currrently, it's one of the more remarkable statistics in baseball that folks probably know next to nothing about.

Since joining the Detroit Tigers, J.D. Martinez has 16 home runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Not only has he shown plenty of power overall, but a definite flair for the dramatic in the two innings where the opposition desperately wants to get outs the most.

In the last week alone, Martinez has clubbed three, turning around a game against the Chicago White Sox, tying Tuesday's game with the Pittsburgh Pirates and nearly bringing Detroit all the way back from an insurmountable seeming deficit on Thursday.

Not only has Martinez been responsible for most of Detroit's offensive output lately nearly himself, he's been getting these key hits at clutch moments in time.

Such feats in rapid succession beg the question: what, exactly, makes Martinez such a force to be reckoned with, especially in the pressure cooking later innings?

The only man capable of answering that query from afar is Brad Ausmus, who has a front row seat every night Martinez takes the field, and also gets an up-close view of him during batting practice. From where Ausmus sits, the answer is actually simple, as is the approach.

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Suddenly Punchless Detroit Tigers Back at .500 After Sweep by Pittsburgh Pirates

July 2nd, 2015 at 5:50 PM
By Max DeMara

DETROIT — It's obvious the listless Detroit Tigers badly need a spark. The nature of what that spark should be is the only thing up for debate.

Such a moment didn't come Thursday afternoon, as the Pittsburgh Pirates kept hitting, overwhelming the Tigers with 13 hits and eight runs. Offensively, Detroit got nothing going until it was nearly too late, leading to an 8-4 defeat and a series sweep.

Early, the game resembled a pitchers duel, with only two hits exchanged through the first four innings. In the fourth, the Pirates got on the board thanks to Francisco Cervelli's solo home run. Kyle Ryan, struggling with command, was lifted in the fifth inning in favor of Al Alburquerque following a pair of walks.

Detroit wasn't doing much against Francisco Liriano, an old rival of theirs from the Central Division. In the fourth inning, they put two runners on but pounded into a pair of groundouts. Brad Ausmus was ejected in the fifth for arguing balls and strikes as the frustration boiled over.

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It’s Finally Time for Joba Chamberlain’s Role to Change Within Detroit Tigers’ Bullpen

July 2nd, 2015 at 12:19 PM
By Max DeMara

DETROIT — The number of times Joba Chamberlain has excelled in his role within the Detroit Tigers' bullpen in 2015 can be counted on one hand.

Considering he has appeared in 29 games, often being used in significant spots, that's a big problem. Wednesday night, Chamberlain was at the epicenter of another Tigers' collapse when he gave up three home runs in the eighth inning, leading to the Pittsburgh Pirates' 9-3 whitewash.

Prior to that, Chamberlain had melted down Tuesday, allowing a key hit to Andrew McCutchen in the late stages of the game that helped the Pirates extend their lead. Chamberlain also gave up three earned runs in last Thursday's narrow loss to the Chicago White Sox. In the last seven days, Chamberlain has given up seven hits and six earned runs, failing in the biggest moments.

That's not exactly a string of success worthy of celebration. It's more like a reason for demotion.

Still, in the wake of those disasters and Wednesday's, manager Brad Ausmus wouldn't back down from supporting his beleaguered pitcher, even going so far as to suggest that pitch-wise, there's reason to be hopeful in light of the ugly statistics.

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Detroit Tigers’ Fan Jim Harbaugh Shares His Memories Prior to First Pitch: “They were My Team”

July 1st, 2015 at 10:28 AM
By Max DeMara

In the middle of the summer, it's not odd to see a football coach throwing out the first pitch at a major league ballpark across America.

It is, however, a bit odd to see one as honestly passionate about the game as Michigan Wolverines' head coach Jim Harbaugh. An admitted baseball fan and a former player, Harbaugh has a special appreciation for the game and the Detroit Tigers, the team he grew up watching.

"They were my team growing up," Harbaugh said prior to throwing out the first pitch before Tuesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, listing Gates Brown, Mark Fidrych, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Bill Freehan, Al Kaline, Ernie Harwell and George Kell as among his favorite personalities.

Knowing that, it's easy to imagine what a thrill it was for Harbaugh to throw out the first pitch at the game in Detroit, clad in a Fidrych jersey tucked in to his patented khaki pants.

"Been practicing since I was five years old," Harbaugh said with a smile when asked if he had practiced prior to the pitch, which ended up being a high strike after a full windup. The journey to that moment began 45 years earlier during Harbaugh's first baseball game.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Manage to Outlast Detroit Tigers in Wild 14 Inning Slugfest

July 1st, 2015 at 9:07 AM
By Max DeMara

DETROIT — Without J.D. Martinez, the Detroit Tigers would never have seen extra innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Martinez, however, temporarily rescued the team with a game-tying homer in the eighth, and both teams would battle for another six innings until anything was decided. When the dust finally settled, the Pirates were able to emerge as the winners.

From nearly the get-go, Justin Verlander wasn't exactly right. The pitcher struggled through a long first inning that featured three walks, and allowed the first run of the night in the second after two hits and a sacrifice fly by Gregory Polanco.

In the third, the trouble continued, with two runs scoring, one after an error at third base by Miguel Cabrera and the other following a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer. Detroit, meanwhile, was doing nothing with Gerrit Cole. Through four innings, Cole had only allowed two hits.

Detroit finally pressured him in the fifth with a pair of singles and plated a run on a double by James McCann. The hit could have brought home all the runners, but a fan interfered in right field, forcing the play into a double. The Tigers would go on to strand the runners and continue to trail.

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