NEW YORK — With each passing step, as Luis Gil strolled toward the Yankees' dugout with his head held high on Tuesday night, a smattering of cheers gradually escalated into a deafening standing ovation.
Gil's third big-league start was far from perfect. The right-hander walked four batters over 4.2 frames, departing with a bases-loaded jam when manager Aaron Boone pulled the plug in the fifth.
What Gil accomplished on Tuesday, however, was far more than just a huge boost for a ravaged rotation, more than just another sneak peek of the youngster's dominant arsenal and animated personality on the mound.
Once left-hander Wandy Peralta secured the final out of the fifth frame, stranding Gil's runners on base and keeping a zero in the run column, the prospect's performance became historic.
With another scoreless outing, Luis Gil is now the first pitcher—since 1893—to throw 4.2 scoreless innings in each of his first three career appearances.
Think of how many pitchers have toed the rubber on a big-league mound over the last century. Gil is the first ever to accomplish that feat, per Elias.
If that's not impressive enough, get this. The phenom's 15.2 scoreless inning streak is now the second longest by a Yankee in franchise history, trailing only Slow Joe Doyle and his career-opening 18 scoreless inning streak in 1906.
Gil was initially called up as a stopgap for New York's injury-plagued staff, making his debut back on August 3 to eat up some innings and show what he can do. Now, he's pitching his way to an expanded role, making a case to stick around as other hurlers begin to return to the rotation.
"I thought he was unflappable," Boone said, assessing Gil's performance in a 2-0 victory over Boston. "He really locked in, concentrated on making his pitches and look, when he's in the strike zone, he's difficult to hit. He's got the stuff to get really good teams out."
Boston's lineup is no cakewalk. Even with his battle to find command, he kept the Red Sox from hard contact, limiting Boston to just two balls in play with an exit velocity exceeding 100 mph.
Even beyond the results, Gil's flare on the bump, celebrating big outs and strutting between innings once again caught the attention of his teammates.
"His charisma and confidence is unbelievable. And I love it," first baseman Luke Voit said. "It's this whole demeanor and I love it, and it's pretty impressive this little streak he's got going."
That "swagger," as Voit called it, has helped Gil strike out 18 batters over his 15.2 innings of work in pinstripes, permitting just nine base hits in that span. Tuesday was even more of an impressive performance, however, because it was his first test against a contender.
"A lot of adrenaline tonight. I was very excited to face Boston and they have a really good lineup," Gil said through the team's interpreter. "You understand that you can make mistakes so very focused on executing pitches and it was a very exciting game."
Gil's short-term future with the Yankees is uncertain. The right-hander was sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Tuesday's doubleheader. He'll have to wait patiently for another opportunity in the show as certain arms inch closer to activation off the injured list.
His record-setting stretch to start his big-league career has certainly resonated with those in charge, though.
To Boone, it's Gil's mindset on the mound mixed in with his propensity for pure joy that's lifting him into a position where he's consistently getting outs. For a team that's dealt with various forms of adversity this season, but is still arguably equipped with the personnel to contend for a deep run into October, those are words for everyone to live by.
"He's got a lot of weapons out there to get big-league hitters out with and I think he goes out there knowing that if he executes, he's gonna have the upper hand. I think he's pitching with that confidence.," Boone explained. "I think he clearly likes being here and pitching with this team, I think he's having a lot of fun and I think when you combine confidence with going out and playing the game to have fun, that's a dangerous combination."
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