"None of those were cheap, either," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He got into all those. He's one of the best hitters in the game, and certainly we missed him in Chicago except for his pinch-hit appearances. It's nice that he's feeling better and swinging the bat better."
On a sweltering night when fly balls were carrying out, the switch-hitting Martinez didn't need any help from Mother Nature. After getting a cortisone shot at the start of the week to alleviate the swelling in his right knee, Martinez felt good with his swing.
"You know what? It's fun," Martinez said. "It doesn't matter which side [of the plate] you hit it [from], it's fun, especially when you win."
All three home runs were solo shots to lead off the inning, two of them off Royals starter Danny Duffy. Martinez jumped the first pitch he saw from Duffy and pulled it into the left-field corner, reducing Detroit's deficit to 2-1 in the second.
Of the three, that was the one home run that was in any doubt off the bat.
"I wasn't sure," he said. "I definitely hit it pretty good. It was on a line drive. I'm glad that it had just enough to leave."
Martinez's next drive took a little work. He fouled off four consecutive pitches from Duffy -- two curveballs, a fastball and a changeup -- to save a 1-2 count until he got a changeup he could send out to the left-field power alley. Again, he pulled the Tigers within a run, a deficit Nick Castellanos erased two batters later with his own solo shot.
Martinez went to the other side of the plate and completed his night in the ninth, sending a slider from right-hander Chien-Ming Wang out to right-center field.
"You're not going to see something like that very often," Ian Kinsler said. "A guy hits three home runs and one from each side of the plate. It was a historic game tonight for him."
Actually, Martinez did it in his other three-homer game, which came in his first full Major League season. He was a young Cleveland Indian when he homered three times against the Mariners on July 16, 2004, at Seattle's Safeco Field.
Those home runs came off lefties Travis Blackley and Ron Villone, then right-hander Julio Mateo. The second homer was a three-run shot that scored current Tigers coach Omar Vizquel.
"Same as today: Two right-handed, one left-handed," he said. "The only difference is that game, I was 5-for-5 with seven RBIs. What else do you want to know?"
Martinez is the third switch-hitter in history with multiple three-homer games. Jose Valentin has two, and Mark Teixeira and Eddie Murray have three.
Martinez is the eighth Major Leaguer with a three-homer game this season. The last Tiger with a three-homer game was J.D. Martinez, who did it June 21 last season.