DETROIT -- If you took a poll for which Tigers player would be the one to make one of the best web gems of the season, Victor Martinez would probably be near the bottom of the list.
Earning only his fourth start at first base on Sunday, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury drilled a hard ground ball down the first-base line. Martinez dove to his left and knocked the ball a few feet into foul territory. He then ran after the ball, reached back and made a no-look toss behind his back to Drew Smyly, who was covering first base, to retire the speedy Ellsbury.
"It was sweet, it was a sick play," Smyly said. "It was all him. I was just standing there at first base. I didn't know if he saw it or not, because he knocked it down and it was right there, so I was just yelling at him, 'I'm here, I'm here,' and he flipped it back. It was a cool play."
Said Martinez: "When I went to get the ball, I knew where the base was."
Manager Jim Leyland says being a former catcher gives Martinez quick hands, and then his instincts kicked in.
"That was just a reaction play, that's what that was," Leyland said. "Like the [Mark] Buehrle play [on Opening Day in 2010]. Kind of like a behind-the-back pass in basketball or a between-the-legs pass or something."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.