Victor Reyes has huge day as Tigers outlast Yankees 11-7

NEW YORK (AP) — Being a Rule 5 draft pick usually means putting in far more time before a game than during it. On Sunday, the hard work paid off for rookie Victor Reyes and the Detroit Tigers.

Reyes hit his first major league homer, doubled twice and singled in leading the Tigers over the New York Yankees 11-7.

“He works his tail off,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He does everything he’s supposed to do and he competes up here just like the rest of those guys. He has ability, that’s why they drafted him, that’s why we picked him up.”

The 23-year-old outfielder, who hadn’t played above Double-A before the Tigers selected him from Arizona last December in the Rule 5 draft for players left off 40-man rosters, drove in three runs with his career-high four hits.

“It’s hard work every day,” Reyes said through a translator. “It’s coming to the park (to) work hard. I’m ready for any time the team needs me.”

As a Rule 5 player, Reyes must either stay on the big league roster all season or be offered back to the Diamondbacks. Striking a balance between keeping Reyes sharp and running the risk of exposing him against competition he’s never faced has been a season-long challenge for Gardenhire, who admits he didn’t play Reyes enough in the first half.

Reyes made 22 starts in 99 games before the All-Star break, but has started 23 of Detroit’s 38 second-half games.

“It’s been a pleasure having him up here, to tell you the truth, and watching him get to play,” Gardenhire said. “As I’ve started playing him more, he’s done more. That’s kind of what you’re supposed to do.”

Batting last, Reyes delivered RBI doubles in the second and fourth, when his hit gave Detroit the lead for good. He homered in the sixth, connecting in his 82nd game in the big leagues.

“Unbelievable emotion,” Reyes said. “Running around the bases, first big league home run in Yankee Stadium, you can’t describe the feeling.”

Reyes, who had just three RBIs in his previous 49 games dating to June 15, may have saved his biggest contribution for the field.

The Tigers took an 8-3 lead into eighth. They nearly frittered the game away after Miguel Andujar and Neil Walker hit RBI single. Greg Bird then barely missed a grand slam when his two-out shot was caught by Reyes as he hit the right field wall.

“I thought as he hit the ball, maybe he has a chance,” said Reyes, who credited outfield coach Dave Clark for working with him during batting practice to adjust to the different dimensions of road ballparks. “But then I got to the wall and I was ready to catch the ball.”

Niko Goodrum had an RBI single in the first for the Tigers. JaCoby Jones’ two-run double in the fourth chased Yankees starter Lance Lynn (9-9) before Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run homer on Tommy Kahnle’s first pitch to give Detroit a 7-2 lead.

Matthew Boyd (9-12) gave up three runs on five hits and one walk while striking out six over six innings for the Tigers.

Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit homered and Andujar had three hits and scored three times. Gleyber Torres had a two-run single in the ninth.

Giancarlo Stanton sat out his first full game for the Yankees since May 28. Manager Josh Bard, filling in for the suspended Aaron Boone, sent up Walker and Bird as pinch-hitters in the eighth.

“He was available, but we were going to make sure that it was to win the game and we thought the matchup was good for `Birdie’ right there,” Bard said.

Lynn allowed six runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out six over 3 2/3 innings.

BOONE BAN

Boone served a one-game suspension for his heated argument Friday night with home plate umpire Nic Lentz. Boone made the highlight shows for getting into a crouch to explain his displeasure with Lentz’s strike zone, though he was punished for bumping caps with Lentz and jabbing his pointer finger in the umpire’s face.

“Obviously, I got a little to closer for comfort there, so that’s part of the deal,” said Boone, who was informed of the decision by one of his predecessors, MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre.

It was the first suspension for Boone, whose ejection was his third of his rookie season. He watched the game from a luxury suite as Bard took over.

“It’s really no different,” Bard said of sliding into Boone’s spot in the dugout. “Our process stays the same.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: DH Victor Martinez, who is retiring after the season, sat out for just the fourth time since Aug. 1.

Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius (left heel bruise) took batting practice for the first time since he was injured Aug. 19. He is expected to be activated next weekend.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer (3-10, 4.71 ERA) will look to win for the first time in 2 1/2 months when the Tigers visit the White Sox for the opener of a three-game series. Fulmer is 0-5 with a 5.90 ERA in seven starts since his most recent win June 14.

Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (7-5, 3.36 ERA) will take the mound as the Yankees visit the Oakland Athletics for what could be a preview of the AL wild-card game. The Yankees entered Sunday 5 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics in the race for the top wild-card spot.