Domingo German’s night started with a bang, but it ended in celebration.
The Rays’ Matt Duffy sent German’s first pitch over the leftfield wall on Thursday. But the rookie righthander recovered by striking out the side, cruised through the next five innings with only small nicks and wound up with a career-high 10 strikeouts and his first big-league win.
The Yankees beat the Rays, 4-3, at the Stadium.
“It feels great. It’s been a long battle for me to be able to win my first game in the big leagues,” the 25-year-old said through an interpreter. “It means a lot. And now I hope I can relax and get a little more after getting the first one.”
This was the seventh start for German (1-4) since he moved into the rotation May 6 in place of Jordan Montgomery. His six no-hit innings that day were deserving of a win, but he left in a scoreless tie. He has had some bad starts since then, but he has been better this past week.
For the second straight start, German allowed three runs over six innings, this time on five hits and two walks. He had nine strikeouts on Saturday against the Mets at Citi Field.
Those first three strikeouts after the home run — all swinging — were a true bellwether for this performance.
German got 26 swing-and-miss strikes and is just the sixth pitcher this season to hit that mark. He joins Seattle’s James Paxton (31), Washington’s Max Scherzer (29), the Mets’ Jacob deGrom (27), Boston’s Chris Sale (26) and Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (26).
Aaron Boone described German as “unfazed” and added that he “filled up the strike zone.”
“A really strong outing for us, especially after getting punched there right before the roll call even started,” Boone said. “We’ve come to see that with him: a little bit of adversity in the course of the game hasn’t affected him. He’s really good at regrouping and I thought he was really good tonight.”
German said the key to turning the page on the homer and keeping the Yanks in the game was “forgetting who is hitting and just focusing and executing a good pitch . . . making sure you don’t fall behind in the count.”
In the past two starts, German said he has tried to “not walk people and keep attacking” the hitters. He did allow the two walks in this one — and both runners came into score.
Though he was out of the game with a one-run lead, he was not anxious watching Chad Green, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman salt it away.
“In baseball, you’ve got to make 27 outs,” he said. “I was just . . . watching and waiting for the end.”