Homer-happy Tigers hit 3 straight vs. Rangers

Homer-happy Tigers hit 3 straight vs. Rangers

DETROIT -- The Tigers welcomed Miguel Cabrera back to their lineup, shuffled the middle of their order and teed off on Rangers starter A.J. Griffin. Alex Avila, Cabrera and J.D. Martinez hit the first set of back-to-back-to-back home runs for the Tigers since 2013, going deep in the opening inning Saturday night and setting the tone for a 9-3 win.

It was the start the Tigers needed to cool off the Rangers, who had won 10 in a row entering the night.

"When a team's playing that well, the best way to stop that is to go out there and score some early-and-often runs," starting pitcher Justin Verlander said.

Avila, who moved up to second in the Tigers batting order after batting cleanup with Cabrera out Friday, began the string, turning on a Griffin fastball and sending a 106-mph line drive out to right field. Statcast™ estimated Avila's fifth home run of the season at 391 feet.

"We just happened to take advantage of some of [Griffin's] mistakes early on," said Avila, who added a two-run double off Griffin in the fourth inning and fell a triple shy of the cycle in a 3-for-3 performance.

Avila's two-run double

Up came Cabrera, who missed the previous three games with a left oblique strain, but didn't need any warmup swings to make his presence known. His opposite-field knock sent a 417-foot loft over the out-of-town scoreboard and the advertisements for his new candy in right-center. Statcast™ measured the exit velocity at 110.2 mph.

Not to be outdone, Martinez hit his sixth home run in eight games, a 439-foot drive toward the deepest part of right-center, near the markers for Hall of Famers Harry Heilmann and Heinie Manush on the brick wall.

"It was a good offensive night," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Obviously Justin did his job going seven, but the offense came out swinging with three runs early, tacked on later with Nick [Castellanos'] three-run homer, so it was a good day for us."

Castellanos' three-run homer

It marked the first string of three consecutive homers since Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Avila went deep against the Orioles on June 1, 2013, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Avila had a bigger reputation as a power hitter back then, two years removed from a 19-homer season in 2011. He hit 50 homers from 2011 through 2014, despite a drop in batting average with each season.

He has five home runs in 68 at-bats so far this season, a stretch that's threatening to earn him a steadier diet of at-bats. He'll start Sunday against Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish. He's just 2-for-12 against Darvish for his career, but he's on a tear right now.

"If he keeps hitting like this, he's going to find himself playing every day," Ausmus said.

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