NEW YORK -- The final out was secured in foul territory down the left-field line, and that baseball was speedily ferried to Domingo German's locker in the home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, where the rookie right-hander greeted the leather memento of his first Major League victory with an appreciative kiss.
The kids delivered once again for the Yankees on Thursday evening, as Gleyber Torres continued his sensational rookie campaign with a go-ahead homer that supported German's career-high 10-strikeout effort in a 4-3 win over the Rays. New York has won 11 of 14 games.
"It feels great," German said through an interpreter. "It has been a long battle for me to be able to win my first game in the big leagues. It means a lot. Hopefully I can relax a little more after getting the first one and keep battling."
Aaron Hicks also cleared the fences, belting a solo shot four batters ahead of Torres, who was promoted to the No. 5 spot in the lineup against left-hander Blake Snell and mashed a three-run blast as part of a four-run fifth inning. Torres leads all Major Leaguers with five three-run homers.
The homers -- Hicks' seventh and Torres' 13th -- boosted German, who limited the Rays to three runs, five hits and two walks over six innings in his seventh big league start since taking the place of injured left-hander Jordan Montgomery in the Bombers' rotation.
"These guys are very polished," Dellin Betances said. "Their upside is tremendous, and they're producing at a high level right away. You're not used to seeing that as much. All the young guys we have, they've been excelling. It's fun to watch. I think the fans are excited to see this wave of young guys helping this team out. They're going to be seeing them for a lot of years."
It was an evening that started on an inauspicious note for the 25-year-old German, as Matt Duffy ambushed his first pitch for a leadoff homer, landing in the left-field seats before the Bleacher Creatures had a chance to fill the ballpark with their usual chants of the starting lineup.
"I thought he filled up the strike zone, especially after giving up a first-pitch home run," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He was unfazed and pounded the strike zone for the most part. He kind of cruised there a little bit. His fastball command was there. A really strong outing for us, especially after getting punched there right before the roll call even started."
Wilson Ramos knocked a third-inning RBI single, though Giancarlo Stanton came up firing after a bobble in left field to throw out Duffy at home plate. Joey Wendle knocked a run-scoring single in the sixth off German, who induced 26 swings and misses, surpassing the Yankees' season high of 19 (done three times).
"German is pretty good," Torres said. "Every day, he gets better and better. Today is his first win; I'm happy for that. He did the job. I think he matures every start."
Snell remained winless in seven career starts at Yankee Stadium, where he made his big league debut by taking a no-decision on April 23, 2016. In this most recent turn, Snell struck out eight and walked four over five frames, allowing five hits.
Chad Green and Betances hurled scoreless frames in relief before Albertin Chapman locked down the ninth inning for his 19th save. German said he watched the final three outs on television from the Yankees' clubhouse, and that he was able to keep his nerves in check as he awaited the outcome.
"I am 100 percent confident in our bullpen," German said. "In my opinion, we have one of the best bullpens. It's about the guys that we have in the bullpen; they go out there and they battle. Anytime they go out there, I don't feel nervous at all because I know they're going to go out there and do their job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Torres took mental notes in his first two at-bats against Snell, striking out in the second inning and flying out in the fourth, so he felt prepared for the showdown that came with two aboard in the fifth. Torres got ahead in the count, 3-1, then fouled off a 96.3-mph fastball and a 79.8-mph curveball. On the seventh pitch, Torres correctly guessed fastball, turning on a 96.2-mph heater that landed a projected 393 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™.
"The first two at-bats, he pitched me pretty well," Torres said of Snell. "The third at-bat, I just felt relaxed. I focused in on just having a good at-bat. If not me, I've got guys behind me. I just tried to put the ball in play and tried to help." More >
German is the sixth pitcher to record as many as 26 swinging strikes this season, joining James Paxton (31), Max Scherzer (29), Jacob deGrom (27), Chris Sale (26) and Aaron Nola (26). The mark is tied for the second most in a single game by any Yankee since the start of 2016 -- Masahiro Tanaka had 27 on Sept. 14, 2017, vs. Baltimore and 26 on May 26, 2017, vs. Oakland.
Jonathan Loaisiga will make his Major League debut on Friday as the Yankees continue their four-game series with the Rays at 7:05 p.m. ET. The 23-year-old right-hander was promoted from Double-A Trenton for the start, slotting into the injured Masahiro Tanaka's rotation spot. Loaisiga is the Yankees' No. 12 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and was 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 Minor League starts this year. Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 3.94 ERA), a former Yankee, draws the start for Tampa Bay.