Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez has been chasing two milestones for weeks. On Tuesday night, he reached one and got one step closer to the other.
Martinez hit a two-run homer off Rangers ace Cole Hamels in the first inning, becoming the first Tigers outfielder to drive in 100 runs in a season since Magglio Ordonez in 2008. It was his 38th home run of the year, putting him just two away from his goal of 40.
After the game, Martinez told reporters that he had been pressing to reach the 100-RBI mark and is now breathing a sigh of relief.
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"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it," Martinez said (via MLB.com). "It's one of those things, you just want to get it over with," he said. "Everyone keeps talking about it. You guys (media) keep asking me about it. You just want to put it behind you and move forward."
Only five other players in Tigers history had achieved the feat of 38 homers and 100 RBI before him. The others include Hank Greenberg (four times), Miguel Cabrera (three times), Cecil Fielder (twice), Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash once each.
"I am humbled by it," Martinez said. "I thank God every day for it and I will continue to thank God. From a year ago to today, it's been quite a change. It's something I always believed I could do. I just feel blessed."
Now Martinez will focus on hitting home runs 39 and 40. If he reaches the 40-home run mark, he would become the seventh player in franchise history to do so.
Manager Brad Ausmus understands the significance of the milestone.
" is a big number," Ausmus said. "You're an elite power hitter. That number was less important for a few years -- a decade or so. But its value has returned to form."
While Martinez is having a career season, his production has carried over from 2014 and Ausmus says it's no fluke.
"I think he's removed a lot of doubt," Ausmus said. "There's always the concern whether it was a one-year wonder, and I think that doubt has been washed away."