Minnesota chose to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera with runners on second and third and two out in the third inning of a game Detroit led 2-0 and eventually won 10-2.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was expressing his preference to have his team pitch to Martinez rather than cleanup hitter Cabrera, who now has 10 intentional walks this season. That's respect -- because the AL record is 33.
Martinez worked the count from 0-2 to 3-2, then grounded a two-run single up the middle.
Cabrera singled leading off the fifth, and Martinez followed with an RBI double to center. He extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
In the second half of last season, Detroit's brass got tired of watching opponents walk Cabrera with impunity.
So management's top offseason priority was the acquisition of a legitimate hitting threat.
The Tigers settled on and signed Martinez, maybe not a superstar but a bona fide hitter capable of 20-plus home runs a season and 100 or more RBI; a hitter who draws his own measure of respect.
If teams had to choose between facing Cabrera or Martinez in a key situation, they would pick Martinez every time.
But the point of adding Martinez was that more than once in a while, teams would pay for that decision, which wasn't the case the great majority of the time in the second portion of the 2010 season. Once Magglio Ordonez was lost for the season, the third- and fifth-place hitters became a daily mix-and-match affair.
This season, when healthy, Martinez has been the guy hitting behind Cabrera, while the No. 3 hitter has varied.
After a slow start and a 15-day stay on the disabled list to attend to a groin muscle strain, Martinez is settling into the role Detroit envisioned for him.
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