DETROIT -- The Royals have seen enough big hits from Jose Cabrera over the years that they had no interest in testing his newfound health with runners on. Nicholas Castellanos and Victor Martinez made Kansas City pay instead, turning a bases-loaded opportunity into a four-run fifth inning to put the
DETROIT -- The Royals have seen enough big hits from Jose Cabrera over the years that they had no interest in testing his newfound health with runners on. Nicholas Castellanos and Victor Martinez made Kansas City pay instead, turning a bases-loaded opportunity into a four-run fifth inning to put the Tigers in a good position for their first win of the season Monday, beating the Royals 6-1 at Comerica Park.
Cabrera entered the season batting .306 with 27 home runs, 119 RBIs and an .875 OPS against the Royals in 638 plate appearances for his career. He entered the fifth batting 6-for-16 on the season, including five balls in play with an exit velocity of over 100 mph. His third-inning ground ball through the left side drove in Detroit's first run of the day off starter Jason Hammel in the third inning.
Once Cabrera came back up in the fifth after Jeimer Candelario's double put runners at second and third with one out in a 1-1 game, Royals manager Ned Yost used a mound visit to talk over the situation with Hammel. Yost signaled for the intentional walk to plate umpire Tom Hallion on his way back to the dugout.
That loaded the bases for Castellanos, who has taken over the cleanup spot in new manager Ron Gardenhire's batting order. He did not take offense.
"He's arguably the greatest right-handed hitter in the history of baseball," Castellanos said of Cabrera, "so it is what it is."
Castellanos' line drive over shortstop Alcides Escobar and into left field scored Leonys Martin and advanced everyone 90 feet for Martinez.
Hammel threw three fastballs to Martinez, who took the first over the plate and fouled off the second. Hammel tried to get him to chase the 0-2 fastball high and out of the zone, but left it low enough for Martinez to connect and line into the gap in right-center field. Two more runners scored on Martinez's first RBIs of the season.
"Sometimes you have to cut down on your swing and bang the ball around, put it in play, to make things happen," Gardenhire said. "That's kind of what we did. We pulled our hands in a couple times and got the barrel on the ball. Good all-around offensive game."
Hoping to keep it at 4-1, the Royals shifted on James McCann, whose single up the middle went right to second baseman Whit Merrifield on the shortstop side of the bag. But with Martinez running, Merrifield rushed the play and fumbled the ball. By the time he recovered, Martinez beat him to the bag as another run scored for a 5-1 lead.
Statcast™ calculated Martinez's sprint speed, or top speed, at 23.1 feet/second on the play. By comparison, Angels slugger Albert Pujols ranked last in the Majors last season with an average sprint speed of 23 feet/second.
"I always try," Martinez said. "Sometimes you don't get the results that you want, but I always try."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.