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 the Detroit Tigers signed him for.
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, cleared the bases 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 3 2-3 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 left fielder Alex Gordon.
Davies finished with five walks and three strikeouts.
"Kyle just never got it going," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He never settled in, and his command was off on everything."
Scherzer struck out three and walked two, although he had to throw 103 pitches to make it through six innings.
"You have to remember, when a guy's got real good stuff, they foul pitches off, and a lot of times, that adds to a guy's pitch count," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Where somebody else, who doesn't have quite as good stuff, they put the ball in play."
Kansas City's Billy Butler hit an RBI single off reliever Brayan Villarreal in the seventh, but Daniel Schlereth came on with two outs and runners on first and third and retired Kila Ka'aihue on a groundball to second baseman Will Rhymes, who made a diving stop to his right.
After that, Leyland had a chance to show off another of his team's new signings, bringing in Benoit to pitch a perfect eighth.
Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his second save.
The Royals began the season with six straight home games and won four of them — all in their last at-bat. They had also played three straight games of at least 12 innings before falling behind the Tigers and never mounting much of a comeback.
Miguel Cabrera was greeted with a cheer when he was introduced before the game. The slugging first baseman was arrested in Florida in February on suspicion of drunken driving. Cabrera reached base three times in the home opener and hit a towering fly ball that was caught by Gordon at the wall in the sixth.
NOTES: The temperature at game time was 43 degrees. ... Fans observed a moment of silence before the game in honor of former Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, who died in November. A flag with "SPARKY" on it was raised beyond the wall in left-center, and the team announced it will retire his No. 11 before a June 26 game against Arizona. ... Tigers 3B Brandon Inge was showing off a Michigan hockey jersey in his locker before the game. The Wolverines play Minnesota Duluth on Saturday for the national title. ... Miguel Cabrera appeared a bit shaken up after running into the tarp near the stands while chasing a foul ball in the sixth inning, but he stayed in the game. ... There were 44,799 tickets sold — the fourth-largest crowd at Comerica Park, which opened in 2000.