KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Victor Martinez hit three home runs, the Tigers pounded out six as a team and Detroit rallied from an early hole to beat the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a four-game series.
There should have been ample reason to celebrate.
Instead, there was just a little bit of melancholy in the clubhouse after a 10-4 victory Thursday night, the fallout of an injury to J.D. Martinez that could keep the outfielder out for up to six weeks.
Martinez was tracking a fly ball in the second inning when he hit the wall. He left the game and was taken for an X-ray, which revealed a non-displaced fracture in his right elbow. He’ll have a CT scan on Friday.
“We feel bad for J.D. It looked innocent,” said the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler.
In the meantime, Steven Moya will take his place in the lineup.
“We’d much rather have J.D. healthy and in the lineup, but he’s not,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, “so we need Steven to pick up the slack, and everybody else to pick up the slack.”
They certainly did that Thursday night.
Victor Martinez hit a pair of solo shots and Nick Castellanos went deep before James McCann homered off Royals reliever Luke Hochevar (1-1) leading off the seventh to knot the game 4-all. Cabrera followed moments later with a two-run shot that gave the Tigers their first lead of the game.
Detroit added three more runs in the eighth before Martinez hit his third homer in the ninth. The veteran designated hitter’s other three-homer game came on July 16, 2004, at Seattle.
“I hung the bullpen out to dry,” said Royals starter Danny Duffy, who gave up the first two of Martinez’s homers. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I didn’t feel my best. That’s one thing people who stick around here do, is battle when they don’t feel as good as they normally do.”
Justin Verlander (7-5) allowed four runs on eight hits over seven innings, continuing his mastery of the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Verlander improved to 13-5 in 22 starts in the ballpark.
Not only did the Royals’ five-game win streak end, so did their nine game home winning streak. It was their longest since reeling off 11 consecutive victories from March 31 to May 5, 2003.
“They have a good lineup, but then again you don’t want to go into it tying your own hands,” Hochevar said. “You’ve still got to go out and pitch your game, pitch your strengths and attack them and trust your stuff is good enough to get them out.”
The Royals were in control until their normally staunch bullpen let them down. Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain drove in runs in the first inning to give them the lead, and Brett Eibner — fresh of the disabled list — matched Martinez’s first homer by driving in a run in the bottom of the second.
Martinez and Castellanos went deep in the fourth, tying the game, before Eibner connected leading off the fifth for the first home run of his career. But then the Royals’ relievers began throwing batting practice.
McCann’s tying shot cleared the wall in spacious Kauffman Stadium with plenty of room to spare, and the home run by Cabrera — his 12th career homer at The K — just cleared the wall in right field.
Martinez capped the big night for the Tigers offense with his no-doubt homer in the ninth.
“Definitely, I felt pretty good,” said Martinez, who was back in the lineup after getting some rest for a bothersome knee. “But the most important thing was to put together a good game like that.”