Watching Luis Gil toe the rubber against big-league hitters, it's no wonder why the Yankees are excited about the prospect's future.
On Wednesday night, however, even Gil setting a new franchise record wasn't enough of a distraction to take away from the right-hander's lack of command.
Making his fourth career start, returning to the Bronx after three-plus weeks in the minor leagues, Gil walked seven batters. He struck out six and only allowed one hit over 3.1 innings pitched, but nearly half of the right-hander's 91 pitches were out of the zone, some more uncompetitive than others.
Now, let's not bury the lede here. What Gil accomplished on Wednesday was truly remarkable. Gil extended his career-opening scoreless innings streak to 18.2 frames. No other pitcher in Yankees franchise history has started a career with a longer streak before giving up an earned run.
It was Gil's inability to locate against Toronto—likely overthrowing in a return to the biggest stage—that led to that streak's demise.
In the fourth, Gil walked the bases loaded, forcing manager Aaron Boone to call to the bullpen. His pitch count was already high, laboring through the previous three frames, so the skipper had no choice.
When a breaking ball from left-hander Lucas Luetge got away from Gary Sánchez, allowing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to score from third base, GIl was charged with an earned run for the first time in his big-league career. A two-run base hit from Marcus Semien moments later was icing on the cake.
Asked after the loss how he'll evaluate Gil's performance, Boone said the 23-year-old is still developing. Wednesday night included flashes of his potential along with a clear indication of where he needs to improve.
"You saw a lot tonight of why he's had some success up here when he's been here," Boone said. "I think where he's at in his development, you're gonna see some of those ups and downs. Especially from the command standpoint. But you certainly saw why we continue to be excited about him."
Seven walks in a game is historic in its own right. The last time anyone in a Yankees uniform matched that feat was Joba Chamberlain in August of 2009, walking seven in a game against the Red Sox.
It's also the first time Gil has ever done that in his career.
"I was really excited about getting another start here in the big leagues and I felt really good out there," Gil said through New York's interpreter. "Those walks put myself in trouble, my command wasn't exactly where I wanted and I can say that it's the first time that has happened to me that I've walked seven batters in a game."
Gil recognized that he has a long way to go. His first clunker was bound to happen eventually, but it's the way the right-hander responds and adjusts that will define him as he continues to evolve.
"I'm going to be working hard to address whatever I need to and it's one of those outings that you've got to learn from," Gil said.
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