First 2 homers of year by J.D. Martinez powers Detroit Tigers past LA Angels

Bob Keisser, The Sports Xchange
J.D. Martinez celebrates after his second home run of the game, in just his second game of the season. Photo by Detroit Tigers/Twitter
J.D. Martinez celebrates after his second home run of the game, in just his second game of the season. Photo by Detroit Tigers/Twitter

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez said the ailing right foot that caused him to miss the first 33 games of 2017 is "still sore and achy."

Saturday night, the Los Angeles Angels were the ones feeling achy after Martinez clubbed his first two home runs of the season in his second game back to give the Tigers a 4-3 win at Angel Stadium.


He hit a two-run shot off Angels starter Ricky Nolasco in the second, then clubbed a solo shot to lead off the top of the ninth off closer Bud Norris (1-2) for the game-winner.

"The foot kind of is what it is," Martinez said afterwards. "The doctors said it's going to be sore, but that's normal. The best thing is they said I couldn't do more damage to it.

"I'm excited to be (back). It's what I trained for all offseason. I've been sitting at home watching the games, going crazy and dying to get back."

Justin Upton also homered, his eighth of the season, to account for the other Tigers' run. The Tigers are now 17-9 in games in which they hit a homer, and 1-8 in games they don't. They can capture their first series in Anaheim since 2009 with a win in Sunday's series finale.


"I'm never surprised at what J.D. does," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He can hit the ball with power in all directions. He obviously makes us better because he stretches the power in our lineup."

Tigers starter Daniel Norris pitched well in his 5 2/3 innings, most of the seven singles he allowed being of the soft variety. He was unlucky in the fifth, as the Angels loaded the bases on a soft single, infield single and a specious hit-by-pitch call facing Mike Trout to set up Albert Pujols, who hit a two-run single to tie the game.

Upton's home run in the sixth, a solo shot to left field, gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead. The Angels tied it on Trout's 10th home run of the season, off reliever Shane Greene.

Justin Wilson earned his second save and first since being named the Tigers' closer earlier this week by Ausmus. He struck out the side in the ninth, giving him 26 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings this season.

"I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, which is probably good," Wilson said. "J.D. hit the home run and I was suddenly up trying to get loose."


Working a 1-2-3 ninth allowed him to avoid Trout, who was on deck when Wilson got the final out.

For the Angels, it was their eighth loss in their last 11 games, and they have now scored three runs or less in 22 of their 39 games.

Nolasco allowed the first two Tigers home runs, giving him 13 on the season, the third most in baseball behind Mike Fiers and former Angel Jered Weaver (14). Of the 22 runs Nolasco has allowed in 2017, 17 have crossed the plate via a home run. He's allowed two home runs in six of his eight starts.

He allowed five hits and four walks in six innings while striking out four. "It was a function of him not being as crisp in his command," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has to be able to keep the ball down and not let them elevate it."

NOTES: The Angels tied the score in the fifth. With two outs, Martin Maldonado and Yunel Escobar reached on soft singles. On a 2-2 inside pitch to Trout, home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski ruled that the ball clipped Mike Trout. Replays showed no deviation of the ball's path. "I think Mike Trout would rather hit than be hit," Ausmus said. ... Angels 2B Danny Espinosa broke the franchise record for most consecutive at-bats without a hit, extending his streak to 0-for-36 before snapping it with a single in the sixth. The franchise record was previously held at 35 by Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. ... Scioscia shuffled his lineup, moving Trout and Albert Pujols to second and third in the order, hoping to create more offense at the top of the lineup. ... With LHP Bud Norris pitching, the Angels sat three left-handed hitters and started with three players in the lineup hitting under .200, 1B Jefry Marte (.175), who hit cleanup; LF Cameron Maybin (.194) and Espinosa (.134). ... The Tigers left six players on base from the fourth to the sixth. ... Angels reliever Andrew Bailey suffered a setback during his rehab for a shoulder injury and is headed to a New York specialist, Dr. David Altchek next week. Altchek did a successful reconstruction of Bailey's shoulder in 2013.


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