NEW YORK -- Jasson Dominguez hasn’t had much time to explore his new surroundings; any sightseeing journeys into Central Park or Times Square can wait. Yet the Yankees' super-prospect has already identified his favorite part of the city: “The right-field wall.”
Indeed, Domínguez and Yankee Stadium already seem a perfect match. “The Martian” lifted off again, launching his first Bronx homer as part of a three-hit performance, as the Yankees notched their fifth consecutive win with a 4-3 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday evening.
“I’ve said it before; I think if you work really hard, when you get good results, it’s not going to be surprising because of all of the work,” Domínguez said through an interpreter.
DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Oswald Peraza also drove in runs as the Yankees improved to 70-69, having won eight of their last nine games to move above .500 for the first time since Aug. 14 at Atlanta (60-59). They are 6 1/2 games out in the American League Wild Card chase.
The surge has coincided with the Yanks’ decision to raise the white flag on a season that general manager Brian Cashman called a “disaster,” unloading veterans to call up prospects like Domínguez and catcher Austin Wells, both of whom have been immediate contributors.
Domínguez joined Mickey Mantle (1952) as the only Yankees to hit three homers over a five-game span at age 20 or younger, and Domínguez has achieved that in his first five games. Domínguez is 7-for-21 (.333) with five runs, a double, three homers and five RBIs thus far.
“He reminds me a lot of [Anthony] Volpe in that he’s very mature, very calm, and doesn’t let the moment get too big,” said Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt. “It’s not like he’s up there antsy, trying to get a hit or a homer. He seems very professional. It seems like he has that ‘it’ factor.”
Shelley Duncan (2007) is the only other Yankee to tally three homers within his first five big league games; just a week ago, Duncan was filling out a lineup card with Domínguez’s name in it as the manager for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“He knows he’s a good player,” said manager Aaron Boone of Domínguez, “but I think he’s got the right level of humility with that, too. There’s just an easy way about him. He enjoys playing the game with his teammates. I don’t think he overcomplicates that part of it. Anxiety is the enemy of the hitter. He doesn’t walk up there with a lot of that.”
Domínguez’s third big league blast came in the third inning, hammering a 110.2 mph line drive off right-hander Beau Brieske that cleared the right-field wall for a solo home run. The 20-year-old switch-hitter added a pair of singles, including his first Major League hit from the right side.
Boone said that Domínguez “has a chance to be dynamic from both sides of the plate.”
“He's a talented kid; we’ve seen him in the spring,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “When they come up and look immediately comfortable, you pay attention, because he certainly looks the part. He's put the ball in play against us. He's hit the ball hard. He hit the ball out of the ballpark. So it looks like he’s off to a good start.”
The Tigers endured an unexpected bullpen game, with Giancarlo Stanton drilling starter Matt Manning in the right foot with a 119.5 mph line drive to end the first inning. Manning sustained a fracture, ending his season.
“That ball was absolutely demolished,” Boone said. “It’s just one of those balls G hits. Unfortunately, it got Manning really good.”
Schmidt allowed three runs and five hits over 6 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out six to log his ninth victory. Paired with Wells for the first time in a big league game, Schmidt retired 16 consecutive Tigers after Kerry Carpenter’s first-inning RBI single.
“It was a lot of fun,” Schmidt said. “There’s a lot of dialogue in-between innings, just kind of feeling each other out. I thought [Wells] did a really, really good job just staying with me. I know it’s tough; you’re trying to get your first hit here in Yankee Stadium, but he was locked in with me the whole night. We had a really good game plan.”
Greg Weissert recorded a crucial strikeout in the eighth, zipping a fastball past Matt Vierling to pin the bases loaded.
“I don’t know [that] I’m exactly young like Domínguez and those guys,” said the 28-year-old Weissert, “but I think everybody wants to win so bad. Everybody wants to make a name for themselves. It’s bringing that extra little energy to the team. Everybody’s vibing pretty good right now.”