NEW YORK -- The rambunctious cheers and blast of music coming from the visitors' locker room could be heard down the halls of Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Although the Tigers had just secured a victory against the Yankees, the true celebration was for rookie Victor Reyes.
Reyes launched his first Major League home run and logged his first career four-hit game to help Detroit split the four-game set with an 11-7 win. Reyes' career day at the plate did not end there, as the Rule 5 Draft pick had three extra-base hits for the first time after having just five in 81 career games before Sunday.
"He had a good day today," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was staying on the ball and shot some balls the other way. He's done well for us. ... That's why we Rule 5'ed him, that's what our people saw, and it's been a pleasure having him up here, to tell you the truth, and watching him get to play. As I've started playing him more, he's done more, so that's kind of what you're supposed to do."
After hitting an RBI double in the second and fourth innings, Reyes hit his first homer a projected 390 feet to right field, according to Statcast™. He held back his smile as he crossed the plate but grinned from ear to ear once he saw his teammates waiting for him to return to the dugout.
"That's unbelievable emotion," Reyes said through an interpreter. "I was running around the bases after hitting my first big league home run in Yankee Stadium. I can't describe the feeling in that moment.
"[My teammates] were even more happy than me. I feel very happy about it. I like the reaction from all my teammates that I got. It was great."
Reyes picked up his fourth hit of the afternoon with a single to left in the eighth inning, leaving him a triple shy of the cycle. Entering the series finale, Reyes had knocked in just two runs since June 16 and eight overall this season. His three RBIs on Sunday matched his career best.
"He's a very talented young man," Nicholas Castellanos said. "He's only been an everyday player, and he's coming off a Double-A season to have a part-time role in the big leagues. From where he was at the beginning of the year to where he is now is very impressive."
Reyes' double in the fourth sparked a five-run frame. After logging an extra-base hit in the first, a triple to left-center, JaCoby Jones doubled in two runs in the fourth, chasing Yankees starter Lance Lynn. Castellanos then sent the first pitch reliever Tommy Kahnle threw over the wall in left to give the Tigers a five-run lead.
Reliever Alex Wilson ran into some trouble in the eighth. Andrew McCutchen was plunked and Aaron Hicks walked, then Miguel Andujar knocked in a run with a single to left. After Wilson walked the bases loaded, Victor Alcantara came on in relief and escaped the jam, allowing just one run, on an infield single. The Tigers then scored three runs in the ninth on singles by Ronny Rodriguez and Dawel Lugo before the Yankees rallied again in the ninth, scoring two runs to shrink the gap.
"You know they're not going to die," Gardenhire said. "This is they're ballpark, and it came down to the very end."
Detroit, once again, got on the scoreboard first, on a Niko Goodrum RBI single in the first, giving starter Matthew Boyd early support. The lead did not last long, as Boyd gave up a solo homer to Hicks and an RBI single to Gary Sanchez in the bottom half of the frame. Boyd allowed just one other run, on a solo blast by Luke Voit in the fourth, and finished the afternoon after six innings, having allowed three runs on five hits with six strikeouts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
What appeared to be a comfortable five-run lead was in danger in the eighth. After Alcantara gave up an RBI single to Neil Walker, the Yankees sent up pinch-hitter Greg Bird -- with Giancarlo Stanton on the bench -- but Alcantara just barely escaped by forcing a flyout to deep right.
"It's not my job to be surprised [that Stanton wasn't the pinch-hitter]. But I know I wasn't bringing in a left-hander to let them pinch-hit him," Gardenhire said. "That's why I had [someone] warming up, but I wasn't going to bring him in, because I figured if I did, [Stanton] would come walking out. I don't really think it matters left or right, but I wasn't going to serve it up to them and try to bring in a lefty to try to get a lefty out and let them have their shot. I think they were waiting to see what happened."
With his three-hit day, Lugo became the first Tigers player to have multiple three-hit performances in his first four Major League games since Tim Corcoran in 1977.
HE SAID IT
"[That's] great managing. I put them right where they should have been." -- Gardenhire, joking about his seven through nine hitters collectively going 10-for-15 on Sunday
The Tigers will head to Chicago on Monday to open a three-game set against the White Sox. Michael Fulmer will get the ball in the series opener looking to bounce back after a rough outing last time out. On Wednesday the righty allowed seven runs on eight hits, including two homers, through 3 2/3 innings against Kansas City. In seven career starts against the White Sox, Fulmer is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA. Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez will take the mound for Chicago. First pitch is slated for 2:10 p.m. ET.