In over 1700 at-bats, the Detroit Tigers DH Victor Martinez had never laid down a bunt for a base hit.
That all changed when the Detroit Tigers faced the Cleveland Indians Monday night at Comerica Park.
While a bunt is usually not anything worth discussing in a blog post, the fact that Victor Martinez did it makes it worth a few hundred words and a few hundred views (the video is in the embedded Tweet below).
Nearly every team in the League has put a shift on V-Mart, especially when he is batting from the left side. In Monday’s game against the Indians, the shift was on and the Tigers got crafty. With the third baseman filling for the shortstop, there was plenty of room for a perfectly placed bunt.
The Unexpected Play
And, since no one would ever imagine that the slower-than-molasses DH would think to drop a bunt, the moment was one for the ages. It was also quite clear that the moment was one that Martinez and his teammates will never forget.
When asked about the bunt, Anthony Fenech with the Detroit Free Press recorded Martinez’s answer:
"“A little scared. Thank God I got it down good and I didn’t hit it back to Bauer. It was a lot of fun. Finally got to put one down, the first one of my career. I really decided when Bauer started his windup. I was like, ‘Ah, I’m going for it.’ ”"
When a professional baseball player is nervous about laying down a bunt, it makes the moment even more profoundly enjoyable. It also shows how perfect the plan was in the first place. No one expected it – not even Martinez.
Will the Shifts on Martinez Continue?
Now that Martinez knows how to beat the shift, will teams continue to shift on him? Most likely. Will more players want to try the same sly move? I certainly hope so. It is surprising that players have not embraced bunting like that when the shift is on. What Martinez did yesterday could open the door to more possibilities of beating the shift. If enough lefty batters offer the threat of bunting up the third-base line, then the shift could be on its way out.
Plenty of Rewinds on the DVR
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It had to be tough to be an Indian yesterday when Martinez laid down the bunt. Knowing that Martinez is the slowest player in the game, the Indians on the field had to be completely shocked by the play. Honestly, I wonder how many of the players were dying to see the replay. I watched it a handful of times to fully comprehend that it really did happen. Even Martinez didn’t seem to fully realize what he had done as he looked like he wanted to crack up in laughter when he stopped at first.
But, that wasn’t the end of the moment that was “The Bunt.” A little rally got started so Martinez had to leg out two more bases when Justin Upton hit a double off of Trevor Bauer. After the bunt and a double, Terry Francona pulled Bauer which gave Martinez a moment to rest. He wandered back to the dugout while Zach McAllister was warming up on the mound. It was clear that his teammates were thoroughly impressed with his moment with their antics in the dugout.
Moments like “The Bunt” are really what make baseball great. Those who love the Tigers and were fortunate to watch Tuesday night’s game will never forget where they were when Victor Martinez bunted for a hit. This bunt along with Andrew Romine‘s first Grand Slam a few weeks ago shows the fans that 2017 is looking like a season not to miss.