DETROIT — When Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes steps on the field, he has a one-play mentality.
The 25-year-old makes sure that when one side of his game is off, the other is very much on. On Saturday, in the second game of the Tigers’ doubleheader against the Twins, Reyes was 0 for 4 in his at-bats with three strikeouts.
While he struggled offensively, Reyes made two major defensive plays to help deliver a 4-2 win over the Twins.
“Yeah, he’s a player,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s why we try to keep him in the lineup every day. Because if he’s not hitting, he’s making great plays out there defensively. He doesn’t want to ever let one affect the other.”
In the top of the fourth, with a home run and two outs already on the board, Twins first baseman Miguel Sano rocketed the ball to center field off of a 1-2 pitch from Tarik Skubal.
Reyes sprinted 87 feet toward the fence and as the ball dipped over, he swung his hand over the wall and snapped the ball in his glove.
One inning later, Reyes made another catch when Twins right fielder Max Kepler hit a fly ball to shallow center field. As the ball fell, Reyes sprinted in before diving and picking the ball out of the air to get the out.
Reyes typically plays right or left field as JaCoby Jones usually handles duties at center field. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Tigers opted to rest Jones.
Over the entire season (223 innings) at all three outfield positions, Reyes has +3 Defensive Runs Saved, best on the Tigers.
As he continues to shine defensively, Reyes is trying to build on the offensive progress he made a year ago, when hit .304 with a .767 OPS. Although his average is down, he’s hitting the ball harder and with slightly more power and has a .731 OPS, fourth among Tigers with at least 100 plate appearances.
Reyes started leading off on Aug. 22 and had gotten a hit in all six games at his new spot in the batting order until going 0 for 4 in Game 2 on Saturday.
“Playing every day has helped me a lot,” Reyes said through translator Carlos Guillen. “It has given me more trust and my mindset has always been the same no matter what spot in the lineup I am. So my mindset is always hit the ball hard.”
That way of thinking and taking things one play at time led to a strong outing for him on Saturday. Along with the two putouts in the second game, Reyes had four hits and one run off four at-bats in the opener.
“He just goes about his business and in the first game, he swung the bat great,” Gardenhire said. “(He had) a little bit trouble in the second half, but then he made two super plays out there. So that’s who he is. He just doesn’t ever take anything with him out to the field and plays both sides of the game.”