Kinsler, Tigers ‘swinging it good,’ crush Marlins

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Ian Kinsler raps a three-run double against the Marlins on Sunday.

Lakeland, Fla. – Ian Kinsler was asked if he was trying to keep pace with Bryan Holaday, who is a mere 6-for-8 with three home runs and two doubles this spring.

“No,” he said. “No, I am not. That’s dangerous.”

Kinsler has been swinging a pretty hot bat himself this week. He jump-started the Tigers 9-2 Grapefruit League romp over the Marlins Sunday with a two-out, three-run double in the second inning.

It was his second bases-loaded double in three games. He’s also homered this spring.

“It’s not normal,” he said of his fast start. “But I did a lot of work in the offseason, made a couple of adjustments that I’ve worked hard on. So it’s nice to have everything you worked on come to fruition.”

J.D. Martinez, who came in with just one hit in 10 at-bats, blasted a long opposite-field homer onto the second deck of the construction site Sunday. It was clear he was more locked in by the way he was tracking pitches in his first two at-bats, drawing walks both times, before swatting the homer.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 9, Marlins 2

Justin Upton, who had struck out six times in his first seven at-bats, got his first hit of the spring, too, an RBI-single to right.

“It’s just a couple of games,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I didn’t think Justin Upton was going to go hitless all spring.”

It was the fifth time in seven spring games the Tigers have scored at least seven runs.

“It’s nice to see everybody swinging it good early,” said Kinsler. “It kind of relaxes everybody. We still have a couple guys that want to get it going and we still have a lot of time.”

Steven Moya blasted his second home run of the spring, a towering shot into the same area of the construction site that Martinez’s went.

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“That might have hit a car last year,” Ausmus said. “The (players’) parking lot was out there. It might have hit Alfredo Simon’s chrome Mercedes.”

Left-hander Matt Boyd pitched three strong innings in his second start. He threw 47 pitches, 31 strikes, and allowed just two singles. His slider and changeup were markedly improved over his first start.

“It was much better today,” said Boyd, who is fighting to win the final spot in the rotation. “We went in with an emphasis on some things we’ve been working on. We got some counts where we could work on that slider and work the changeup off it. It was just some building blocks we need going forward.”

He gave up the two singles in the second inning, and then skillfully worked his way out of trouble. He first won a 10-pitch battle with left-handed hitting Derek Dietrich. He struck him out with the slider on a 3-2 pitch.

He ended the inning by jamming Adeiny Hechavarria with a hard two-seamer and getting him to roll out to first.

“I trust (the slider),” Boyd said. “All five of my pitches I feel I can throw in any count. That’s the mentality you have to have. I consider all five of them equal.”

Blaine Hardy, Bobby Parnell and Drew VerHagen all pitched a scoreless inning. Michael Fulmer pitched the last two innings, his fastball hitting 97 mph.

Twitter @cmccosky