Victor Reyes' 4-hit game helps Tigers outslug Yankees
New York — There was a reason last December the Tigers took a chance at that Winter Meetings grab-bag known as the Rule 5 draft and snatched a kid named Victor Reyes.
They thought he had a chance, at some point in the future, to add brawn and grow into a big-league outfielder.
They got at least one day's dividend Sunday when Reyes went 4-for-5, including his first big-league homer, as the Tigers romped to an 11-7 victory and a split of their four-game adventure at Yankee Stadium.
Reyes also had a pair of doubles — each stroked down the opposite-field, left-field line. But it was his homer that led to a frat-party of a greeting in the Tigers dugout when, in the sixth, he tore into a Sonny Gray fastball and launched it 390 feet into the right-field upper-deck seats.
"Nothing cheap about that," said Nick Castellanos, offering a critique of Reyes' blast, which had the Tigers dugout hugging and fussing over a 23-year-old batter who had tasted the sweet glee of his first big-time home-run trot. "He hit it well."
Reyes grinned more Sunday than he has in the seven months since he first suited up for the Tigers.
"I was very happy," he said by way of interpreter Rafael Martinez. "And to do it at Yankee Stadium.
"I was ready for a fastball, ahead in the count (2-0), and happy to get the right part of the bat on it."
The Tigers had already ripped Yankees starter Lance Lynn for nine hits and six runs in 3.2 innings, building a 7-3 lead through four.
They finished with 17 hits and with the Yankees bidding them a hearty good riddance. The Tigers played a bulldog of a series at Yankee Stadium, making the home team sweat for even a split.
"A lot of good things happened today," said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. "There were a lot of good swings."
Sunday's siege included a pair of extra-base hits from JaCoby Jones, as well as three hits and two RBIs from Ronny Rodriguez. New second baseman Dawel Lugo pitched in with three more singles and now has two three-hit outings in his first four big-league games. Castellanos blasted his 20th home run.
He is the first Tigers rookie to have multiple three-hit bursts in his first four big-league games since Tim Corcoran did it in 1977.
"These guys have had some success at Triple A," Gardenhire said. "And now they're up here, and swinging. This is a big stage."
The Tigers, though, kept their four games against the Yankees tense. And even Sunday's splurge had its dark moments.
The Tigers nearly lost a five-run bulge in the eighth when Louis Coleman got into a mess, walking a pair of batters, hitting another, and offering up a ground single, good for a run that made it 8-4.
Victor Alcantara came on and was nicked for a hard single off his body that scored another run to put the Yankees within three, 8-5, and fill the bases for pinch-hitter Greg Bird.
Bird lined an Alcantara pitch — "a sinker that didn't sink," Gardenhire said — toward the W.B. Mason sign in right. But it was caught at the fence by Reyes for the third out, a few feet shy of what might have been a 9-8 Yankees lead.
It might not have mattered. The Tigers got three more runs in the ninth on a double by Castellanos, a pair of walks, and RBI singles from Rodriguez and Lugo.
Matthew Boyd started for the Tigers and looked initially as if he was going to have one of those days. He was conked for four hits and a pair of runs in the first. But he found his rhythm and finished strong: six innings, only one more hit, and with his guys comfortably in control.
"He was facing a good lineup," Gardenhire said of the first-inning burst, which Boyd thought had involved only one bad pitch — a double by Miguel Andujar against the left-field fence.
"It was nice to have had a big lead and to be able to attack," said Boyd, who twice made sure catcher James McCann got credit for "calling a great game," all after there had been some August squabbles on pitch-selection and shake-offs.
"James was great," said Boyd, who threw 28 pitches in the first, but an evenly paced 70 over the next five innings. "We really attacked the strike zone."
Alex Wilson pitched a smooth seventh after Boyd departed.
Shane Greene handled a jagged, 30-pitch ninth, complete with two walks, an infield single, and a two-out, two-run RBI single from Gleyber Torres before he put away Luke Voit on a called third strike.
Boyd couldn't help but mention the Tigers offense Sunday, especially those collective 10 hits from Reyes, Rodriguez, and Lugo.
"We lost a lot of close games this year," he said, turning to next season and to the new blood arriving, "but I'm excited by what's to come."
The Tigers were to fly to Chicago late Sunday for a three-game series against the White Sox.