DETROIT — Victor Martinez loves hitting homers, though even he had to laugh Sunday when he was asked about breaking out of a power slump with a pair of weekend three-run shots.
His third-inning shot to left was all that Anibal Sanchez needed to finish off a weekend sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a 4-0 victory Sunday.
Before homering Saturday and Sunday, Martinez hadn’t hit a ball out since July 3, a 16-game stretch that also included eight days off recovering from a back strain. However, he did hit .281 during his "slump", and the two this weekend gave him 23 on the season, only two short of his career high, so he’s not too worried.
"I think I was on pace for 100 homers there for a while, and I have to tell you, I wasn’t going to keep that up," he said. "This game is tough, and all you do is go up there and try to have a good at-bat every time up. A lot of times, that’s not going to mean a homer, even if you do your job. I’ve just got a couple on the barrel in the last two days."
Sanchez (8-5) became the third straight Tigers starter to dominate the Rockies, striking out a season-high 12 in seven innings. He only allowed two hits and a walk.
"I had the life back in my fastball, and I just kept going to it," Sanchez said. "When you know you can throw your fastball on every pitch, and you know you can put it anywhere, it makes your other pitches even more dangerous."
Joba Chamberlain allowed one hit in a shutout eighth inning, and Joakim Soria did the same in the ninth.
Jorge De Le Rosa (11-7) gave up four runs on six hits in 6 2-3 innings. All six hits came with two outs, but Detroit grouped three of them to create a big third inning.
"They are tough on everyone — for me, that’s the best lineup in the league," De La Rosa said. "I made some really good pitches, and they still hit them. That shows you how good they are."
De La Rosa retired the first two batters of the third, but Rajai Davis’s speed and some sluggish defence turned a routine single into a double. De La Rosa then hit Ian Kinsler, and Miguel Cabrera made it 1-0 with a single up the middle.
Martinez connected two pitches later.
Sanchez fanned seven in his final three innings.
Detroit: LF Andy Dirks went 1 for 4 for Single-A West Michigan on his second rehab assignment to try and return from a back problem that has kept him out all season. Dirks, who had to cut his first assignment short in July, is hitting .286 in two games for the Whitecaps.
Colorado: SP Christian Bergman (wrist) was scheduled to make his second rehab start for Double-A Tulsa on Sunday night. … OF Carlos Gonzalez remained out of Sunday’s lineup, two days after aggravating an ankle injury when he slid into the Comerica Park fence trying to catch a foul ball. Walt Weiss said Sunday that he’s confident Gonzalez will return during the upcoming home series against the Cubs.
Detroit: Detroit travels to New York for a four-game series that will be highlighted by David Price’s first start in a Tigers uniform. In Monday’s series opener, Max Scherzer (13-3, 3.27) faces Brandon McCarthy (6-10, 4.56).
Colorado: After a day off on Monday, the Rockies return home for three games with the Cubs. Brett Anderson (1-3, 3.12) is scheduled to start the opener against Chicago’s Travis Wood (7-9 5.10).
LEFTY PARADE: De La Rosa became the 19th straight lefty to start for the Rockies, moving them one game short of the major league record, set by the 1982 Kansas City Royals. The Rockies are expected to at least tie the record, with Anderson scheduled to pitch Tuesday, but they have not announced their rotation for the rest of the Chicago series.
CAREER YEAR: Even after the injury and slow month, Martinez is on pace for 35 homers. In 2007, when he hit his 25 homers for Cleveland, he didn’t hit his 23rd until Sept. 16. Martinez is also on pace to set career highs in slugging percentage (.567) and OPS (.948).
DOMINANT ROTATION: In the three-game sweep, Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello combined for a 1.57 ERA with 27 strikeouts and two walks in 23 innings.