By Evan Brunell
DETROIT -- Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, dueling against each other in the ALCS, were teammates on the Red Sox last season and helped foster a healthy clubhouse with their leadership, which the Rangers and Tigers, respectively, have raved about. On Tuesday night, each displayed just what might have been missing on the Red Sox this season.
So no, Beltre wasn't coming out.
Then, in the bottom fourth, it was his ex-teammate's turn to show some fortitude. Martinez stepped to the plate with the Tigers down 1-0 and the crowd increasingly demoralized... and rocketed a home run to left field. Bedlam from the crowd, but Martinez instantly grimaced and stumbled toward the ground before gingerly running around the bases. This was a huge homer for Detroit, and all that happened was a casual fist-bump by Don Kelly in the on-deck circle, and then a somber reception in the dugout without the usual high-fives. Martinez immediately slammed his helmet before disappearing into the clubhouse tunnel, and it looked as if V-Mart may have fallen victim to an intercostal muscle strain.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the fifth. Miguel Cabrera at the plate with runners in scoring position, a situation the Tigers have struggled through all postseason. The TV cameras showed Martinez speaking to Leyland in the dugout, clearly not right. However, he headed to the on-deck circle with many theorizing that this was a fake-out to make the Rangers think V-Mart was going to hit and perhaps make an incorrect pitching coach before Martinez was pinch-hit for. That feeling was only furthered more when he didn't take any swings and watched Miggy blast a RBI double. And yet, Martinez stayed in the game. (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler says Martinez is expected to play in Game 4 as well... surprise, surprise.) He didn't swing once in the at-bat, but worked a walk. You could tell that there was absolutely no way that Martinez was coming out of the game. This is a man who told reporters on Sept. 28 after injuring his big toe, "You're going to have to kill me to keep me out of the lineup." And after Game 3? "I will play tomorrow unless I am dead when I wake up."
So no, Martinez wasn't coming out.
On a night where the Red Sox's epic collapse may have claimed it's biggest victim yet in GM Theo Epstein, two players he allowed to leave in free agency showed on baseball's brightest stage the perseverance strangely lacking in Boston this season. And perhaps that's why the Red Sox are sitting at home with Red Sox Nation crumbling.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.