Luis Gil, Alex Verdugo providing Yankees with unexpected boost

Luis Gil Yankees
Luis Gil (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Gil had every reason in the world to have the jitters going into Tuesday night’s game.

He was facing a future Hall-of-Famer in Justin Verlander and just two batters into his night, he gave up a home run to Kyle Tucker.

But his defense had his back. Running catches by Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo robbed the Houston Astros of base hits and the chance to score. Verdugo came in especially clutch in the final two outs of the sixth inning, tracking out No. 2 to the corner of the warning track and then dashing into no man’s land for the final out.

The offense helped, too. It started with Verdugo’s three-run home run in the bottom of the first, just moments after Tucker took Gil out.

In the next inning, Verdugo struck again with an RBI single to get Soto home, increasing his cushion to 4-1.

“A really great, all-around game by him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Verdugo. “The guys love him in there, I think he loves it, and we’re seeing the kind of player he is on both sides of the ball. He’s been a spark, he’s been excellent, he’s been clutch, and there’s no doubt he brings a little edge with him to the park every day.”

Alex Verdugo Yankees Astros
New York Yankees’ Alex Verdugo hits a three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A pair of home runs from Anthony Volpe and Giancarlo Stanton combined for three more runs, and Aaron Judge put the cherry on top with an RBI single of his own to plate Jon Berti. The Yankees had eight runs scored before the seventh inning stretch, as long as Gil was on the mound.

The 25-year-old right-hander went exactly six innings and did not allow another run or hit after Tucker’s home run while walking four and striking out five on 97 pitches. It continues his solid run of form of late. He limited the Baltimore Orioles to just two hits over 6.1 scoreless innings on May 1 where he struck out five and walked one.

His season ERA is now down to 2.92.

“To be able to go out and give us six really good innings on a night it wasn’t necessarily all clicking for him, it just speaks to how capable he is,” Boone said. “My point is, just how good he is when I felt like at times he was just battling his delivery a little bit and could have been a little better from a strike-throwing standpoint. It wasn’t perfect and you still see a guy that goes out against a good offense and goes six innings, one run
and one hit. He keeps on growing and he’s got a really high ceiling.”

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