Having won a nail-biter of a game in the the doubleheader matinee, the Yankees entered tonight’s contest hoping that rookie Luis Gil could conjure up some of the magic of his first two scoreless starts. That’s just what he did, and with the help of some brilliant relief pitching, combined to shutout the Red Sox, 2-0, and sweep the doubleheader.
Both pitchers came out of the gate dealing. Gil worked around a one-out walk to Alex Verdugo while Nathan Eovaldi bore down after a leadoff DJ LeMahieu single to both turn in scoreless firsts.
The second inning wasn’t as smooth sailing for Gil. He gave up a leadoff single to J.D. Martinez on a middle-middle four-seamer in an 0-2 count, followed by a walk to Kyle Schwarber. However, he was not fazed, displaying impressive determination to strike out the next three batters and slam the door.
The Yankees opened the scoring in the bottom half. After two quick-fire strikeouts, Luke Voit stepped to the plate looking to continue to stake his claim as a starter with Anthony Rizzo’s return imminent. Well, he did just that, lining a missile solo shot to the opposite field to spot the Bombers an early 1-0 lead:
Voit knew it right off the bat, as the 102.4-mph laser soared 369 feet into the bleachers in right.
Gil settled down nicely in the third, navigating around another Verdugo walk and a passed ball to turn in another scoreless frame. In the home half, the Yankees threatened to extend their lead following leadoff singles by Kyle Higashioka and LeMahieu, but Eovaldi retired the next three to leave them stranded.
The top of the fourth was arguably Gil’s most impressive frame. He retired the side in order on only eight pitches, inducing two popouts in the process. Gil’s fastball exhibited the best life of his three outings, achieving roughly an inch more rise than in his first two starts. This kept the ball off the barrel of the bat and allowed him to collect an abundance of popups and harmless flyouts.
Giancarlo Stanton led off the bottom of the fourth with a bang, crushing an 0-2 hanging curveball over the visitor’s bullpen:
The solo shot came off his bat at 110.8 mph, traveled 441 feet into the bleachers in left-center, and extended the Yankees lead to 2-0. The Yankees created additional traffic via a Rougned Odor hustle double and Higashioka walk, but were unable to capitalize further.
Things got a bit hairy in the fifth. Jarren Duran led off with a bloop single, and after a Travis Shaw strikeout, Kiké Hernández dribbled a soft grounder up the middle that should have been minimum one out. However, Tyler Wade never got himself into the proper fielding position and whiffed the scoop. A Xander Bogaerts walk loaded the bases and ended Gil’s night. Wandy Peralta came in for the lefty-lefty matchup against Devers and induced a critical groundout to leave the bases juiced.
There’s a lot to like about the way Gil pitched. His fastball matches up with any in the big leagues thanks to its combination of velocity and life. He remained poised even when the pressure began to mount. That said, Gil would benefit from developing a consistent secondary pitch. The slider location was all over the place, the delivery was unreliable, and the changeup was practically nonexistent.
Hard to criticize his performance, but there is always room for improvement. Namely: developing a reliable secondary pitch. Slider location was all over the place, and it feels like he got lucky with those left up in the zone. pic.twitter.com/XMwJSxyfVl— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) August 18, 2021
Regardless, these are minor nits to pick for a guy who just completed his record third-straight scoreless start to begin his MLB career. No one in Yankees history since 1906 has had a better start. Gil’s final line: 4.2 innings, three hits, no runs, four walks, and four strikeouts on 71 pitches.
Peralta came back out for the sixth and looked to be on track for an easy inning. However, another Wade defensive miscue cost the Yankees an inning-ending double play and extended the frame. A single by Hunter Renfroe put runners on the corners and brought pinch-hitter Bobby Dalbec to the plate. He lined a ball off Peralta, who managed to chase the ball down and fire it to first for the pivotal out to extinguish the fire.
Chad Green entered the seventh looking to lock down the save. Thankfully, it was an uneventful inning by his recent standards. He retired the side in order to secure the win, pitching the best we’ve seen in the last handful of outings.
With the victory, the Yankees move ahead of the Red Sox in the standings (by winning percentage) for the first time since April 6th. The A’s loss to the White Sox means that the Yankees are technically in first place in the Wild Card race since they hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over Oakland at the moment. What a run this team has been on since early July. Sweeping the doubleheader means they guarantee at least a series win for the 11th time in their last 12 series.
The Bombers will hope to ride the high emotions from today into tomorrow’s contest, eyeing a series sweep against their foes for a chance to grab undisputed possession of that first AL Wild Card spot. Andrew Heaney gets the ball for his fourth start in pinstripes, and he will face Nick Pivetta. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET, so make sure to join us in the game thread!