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Newcomer Martinez sparks Tigers

April 9, 2011

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— Victor Martinez barely had time to settle in at his new home ballpark before walking to the plate with the bases loaded — exactly the kind of situation for which the Detroit Tigers signed him.

Martinez hit a three-run double in his first home at-bat for Detroit, helping the Tigers to a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday. Martinez, who joined with the team as a free agent in November, plated three runs in the first inning with a drive to the gap in right-center field.

“I think that’s the easiest way to become a fan favorite,” teammate Max Scherzer said. “How many Victor Martinez jerseys did you just sell?”

Jhonny Peralta drove in two runs for the Tigers, who looked sharp in their home opener after losing four-of-six to start the season.

Detroit added Martinez, Joaquin Benoit and Brad Penny in the offseason, hoping to make a run at first place in the AL Central. Tigers fans eager to see their new-look team caught a break when the rain in the area began to subside before the first pitch. Detroit then scored four runs in the first inning.

Kansas City starter Kyle Davies (0-1) walked two and threw two wild pitches in the first inning alone. Martinez’s double made it 3-0.

“It’s a great feeling,” Martinez said. “You look up, you see a full house. That makes you bring your ‘A’ game every time.”

Peralta drove in another run with a double of his own down the left-field line.

Scherzer (2-0) allowed one run on seven hits in six innings, recovering nicely after giving up four home runs against the Yankees in his first start of the season.

“My outing in New York, it really wasn’t as bad as the line suggested,” Scherzer said. “I made some mistakes, they hit some home runs, but I also felt like a couple of their home runs were short porch, wind blowing out — all the elements going against you.”

That’s less of a problem at spacious Comerica Park. There were no home runs Friday, but the Tigers took advantage of an erratic outing by Davies, who allowed five runs on six hits in 32⁄3 innings. Martinez’s hit in the first was the biggest blow.

“I got lucky with Martinez, because he swung through two belt-high fastballs,” Davies said. “But then I threw one that was only thigh-high — still not a good pitch — and he crushed that one.”

Kansas City scored on an RBI triple in the third by Melky Cabrera, but the Tigers answered in the bottom half. Davies hit Miguel Cabrera with a pitch, threw a wild pitch, then walked Martinez and Brennan Boesch. Peralta drove in Cabrera with a sacrifice fly to deep left.

Alex Avila added a single, but Martinez was thrown out trying to score by Alex Gordon.

Davies finished with five walks and three strikeouts.

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