Moya meeting expectations in latest stint

Tigers rookie has been hot at the plate while filling in for Martinez

Moya meeting expectations in latest stint

DETROIT -- This is the feeling Steven Moya had been waiting to experience, rounding the bases on a home run in front of Tigers fans at Comerica Park. He finally experienced it Wednesday.

Then, an inning later, he did it again.

"It feels good. It feels amazing," he said of a two-homer game in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Mariners. "It's really cool for me because it's at home."

He wasn't the only one waiting. It was the type of night some Tigers fans have been anticipating ever since Moya's Eastern League MVP season two years ago at Double-A Erie propelled him up prospect lists.

He was a developing young slugger still learning in an organization stacked with veteran Major League hitters. But with J.D. Martinez out for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right elbow, Moya is the Tigers' regular right fielder for the foreseeable future.

Moya's leaping grab

So far, he's stepping up. With Wednesday's effort, Moya has hit his first three Major League homers in his last three games. He's 8-for-21 with nearly as many home runs as strikeouts (five) since being called up in the wake of Martinez's injury.

He's showing the maturity of a season and a half at Triple-A Toledo, from a humbling 2015 campaign to a resurgent 2016.

"He's worked very hard to be more selective with his swings, to lay off pitches out of the zone, cut down on strikeouts," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's done a nice job. He had a good year two years ago, kind of a breakout year. Last year was a down year for him, and then this year he's picked up where he was in 2014."

Moya's two homers Wednesday went to different directions off different pitches from Hisashi Iwakuma. He turned on a pitch over the plate leading off the fourth inning and golfed it out to right, sending it into the tunnel in the corner.

The second home run had a higher degree of difficulty, an opposite-field homer off an outside pitch in the fifth.

"I just tried to stay with the pitch and just use my hands," he said.

Add in a leaping catch at the right-field wall, right where the dimensions deepen, and it was an all-around highlight day.

"I just try to relax, just play the game and try to have fun," Moya said. "That's what I give thanks for. Just let God take over and work through me so I can do what I have to do every at-bat."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.