Luis Gil rewrites history and helps the Yankees catch the Red Sox

New York Yankees right-hander Luis Gil is enjoying a start to his MLB career that no one has ever had before.

The New York Yankees wouldn’t have thought it was an ideal position if, three weeks ago, they had to rely in a big moment on a 23-year-old who was pitching in Double-A in June. But Luis Gil didn’t just lead the Yankees to a doubleheader sweep of the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, he jumped right into the baseball record books.

Called up as the 27th man to start the second game of the doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, Gil held the Red Sox off the scoreboard for 4.2 innings, part of a collective five-hit shutout in a 2-0 Yankees victory. He emerged unscathed from some trouble spots: in the second inning, after J.D. Martinez singled and Kyle Schwarber walked to put two runners on with nobody out, Gil struck out the next three batters, the last pitch a 98 mph fastball to Travis Shaw.

In the fifth inning, Gil gave up two singles and loaded the bases after walking Xander Bogaerts on four pitches. Manager Aaron Boone brought in Wandy Peralta, who escaped the jam by retiring Rafael Devers on a force-out.

Gil’s night was finished after giving up three hits while striking out four and issuing four walks. He didn’t allow a run for the third consecutive start, extending his scoreless streak to 15.2 innings to begin his career. He’s the first pitcher in modern MLB history to throw at least 4.2 scoreless innings in each of his first three career outings. The list of pitchers with at least 15 shutout innings over their first three games begins and ends with Gil.

Will his historic start allow Luis Gil to stick in the Yankees rotation?

It was a terrific performance by a young pitcher in a pivotal moment. But it might not be enough for Gil to stick around in the Yankees rotation. Each of his first two starts ended with him being sent down to the minors. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 3, filling in after Gerrit Cole tested positive for COVID-19. He was recalled to start on Aug. 8 against Seattle to take the roster spot of Anthony Rizzo after the Yankees’ first baseman also tested positive, then was sent down again.

He’s certainly proved he’s worthy of more opportunities. The problem is there may not be any slot in the rotation to put him. Cole returned on Monday for his first start in 17 days. Jordan Montgomery came off the COVID list on Tuesday and started the first game of the doubleheader. Domingo German, on the IL with right shoulder inflammation, is throwing bullpen sessions as he works his way back to the lineup, while Corey Kluber, out since May 25, made a rehab appearance for Triple-A Scranton on Tuesday. Jameson Taillon is untouchable.

That leaves Gil as likely the odd man out when everyone is back healthy, despite his display of power and the ability to pitch under pressure on Tuesday. His 42 fastballs against the Red Sox averaged 96.2 mph.

On July 25, the Red Sox beat the Yankees with five runs in the eighth inning after German began the inning with a no-hit bid intact. The Yankees were nine games behind after that loss. Since then, they are an AL-best 17-5 while the Red Sox are 8-14. The nine-game deficit is gone: with the doubleheader sweep on Tuesday, the Yankees and Red Sox are now tied for second in the AL East.

Gil, by beating their AL East rivals, proved he’s up to the challenge of a pennant race. The talent is there. The opportunities, though, may not.

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