KO for J.D.: Martinez clubs Yanks with 3 homers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
J.D. Martinez heads to the dugout after his fifth-inning homer.

New York — J.D. Martinez and few other Tigers were talking before the game Sunday and the topic of multi-homer games came up.

"Yeah, we were on that topic before the game and I was saying I never had one before," Martinez said. "I did it in the minor leagues but never in the big leagues."

He can cross that off his baseball bucket list.

Martinez hit three home runs and knocked in six runs as the Tigers turned the tables on the Yankees, beating them 12-4 to stop a four-game losing streak.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 12, Yankees 4

"It was just one of those days where you take your swings and you are actually hitting the ball the way you want to hit it," he said. "There aren't too many of these days. You've got to take advantage of them."

None of the three were cheap. Martinez blasted two to dead center of starter Masahiro Tanaka. The third, into the upper deck in right, came against Danny Burawa, a right-hander making his Major League debut.

"Hitting three homers in a game is something you dream about," Martinez said. "To do it in a game is a different thing."

Martinez, in what amounts to a little more than one full season with the Tigers going back to last year — 699 at-bats — has 39 home runs, one every 17.9 at-bats.

"J.D. has a ton of power," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Outside of Miggy, he has as much power as anybody I've seen."

The Tigers, after scoring just 11 runs in their previous 40 innings and coming off a 14-3 loss Saturday night, broke out with five home runs and 15 hits.

"We've been getting our heads kicked in the last couple of games," Martinez said. "When Victor hit that ball in the first inning, it kind of relieved the pressure on a lot of guys."

Victor Martinez, during his postgame comments Saturday, said what the Tigers needed was somebody to provide a spark. He took it upon himself to do that.

In his third game back from the DL, he ignited a four-run first inning with a two-run homer to right field — his first left-handed homer of the season.

"It was a good sign to see Victor turn on balls from the left side," Ausmus said. "He hit a home run left-handed at the end of spring training in St. Pete, but since then he hadn't really turned on many balls. He turned on three today."

Victor Martinez contributed three hits and four RBIs.

"That was big for us," said third baseman Andrew Romine, who hit the fifth homer of the game. "That got us on a roll, got us started. To come from a guy who hadn't been here for a part of the season, that's big, that's huge. We know that we can kind of jump on his back and he'll be able to carry us."

The middle of the Tigers order, Nos. 3 through 6, produced nine hits, nine runs and 11 RBIs. And they did most of that damage, 10 hits and seven runs, against Tanaka. J.D. Martinez is now 4-for-6 this season against him.

"As cliché as it sounds, you just got to get (his pitches) up," J.D. Martinez said. "He's got great stuff when he's down in the zone. If you are chasing down in the zone, it's going to be a long day for you."

It was the most runs the Tigers have scored since plating 13 against Houston May 14. And it was by far the most run support Anibal Sanchez has received this season.

After not allowing a run in his last two starts, Sanchez didn't quite have his best stuff. But he was plenty good enough. He gave up solo home runs to Brian McCann and Stephen Drew (who hit another off Joakim Soria in the ninth). Otherwise, after a two-run second inning, he held a hot-hitting Yankees team in check through seven innings.

"In the middle innings he had to grind through a little bit," Ausmus said. "But he stranded guys on base, which was huge. If the Yankees had kept pecking away, that could've been an issue."

As is his way, though, Ausmus wasn't overly giddy over one win. When asked what the win meant for his team, he deadpanned, "It's one more in the win column. We move forward."

The players, though, are hoping it can trigger a positive run.

"To come back after — for lack of a better word — an embarrassing night last night and then turn it around completely like that is big for us," Romine said. "It carries into the next series."

Twitter @cmccosky