DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez hit his way into near-regular playing time over the past week, batting .419 (13-for-31) with two home runs and seven RBIs over his past eight games. He would have more damage than that if not for the Royals outfield.
When Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon stretched out for a diving grab to rob Martinez of a potential RBI single in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Kansas City, it marked the third highlight catch a Royals outfielder had made in as many games against Martinez.
The first two games, it was Lorenzo Cain who robbed Martinez of base hits, stretching out to grab a line drive in the gap in right-center field Monday night before leaping at the fence to corral his opposite-field shot Tuesday. As on Wednesday, both of Cain's catches came with a runner on base.
Gordon's diving catch, however, ended the fourth inning in the first close game of the series.
"At first, I thought he hit it harder than he did," Gordon said after the game. "My first step was back, but I made a good run in and battled the lights a little bit. I knew I had to make a dive for it, and it found the glove luckily."
Martinez still managed to send a few pitches where Royals outfielders could not get them. He provided the Tigers their lone run Wednesday when he got under a Jeremy Guthrie sinker and pulled it over the fence in the left-field corner.
Martinez has gained playing time in the Tigers outfield with Torii Hunter out with a sore hamstring. He started all three games last weekend in place of Rajai Davis, who has been dealing with a sore shoulder.
"He'll probably play [Thursday]," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's swinging the bat well. You have to keep him in there. With Torii not feeling great with his hamstring, until Torii's ready, he'll get some playing time. Hopefully Torii will be ready soon."