It was, in the words of Aaron Boone, "hard news" to take.
Less than 24 hours after disclosing ace Gerrit Cole would be lost for an undetermined amount of time after testing positive for COVID-19, Boone added Jordan Montgomery to that list before Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles.
Two of the Yankees’ top starters gone until further notice.
Still, Boone said: "it creates an opportunity for some other people to go and make a name for themselves and do something to help us win ballgames."
Tuesday night that was rookie righthander Luis Gil.
The 23-year-old, considered among the Yankees top pitching prospects but who had not pitched above Class-A ball before this season, played a starring role in a 13-1victory over the Orioles in front of 30,815 at the Stadium.
"It was," Boone said of Gil’s outing, "much needed."
Gil, who started the season with Double-A Somerset and had not been especially impressive since being promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (3-0 but with a 5.64 ERA in eight starts there), controlled the Orioles (38-68) over six scoreless innings with an at-times triple-digit fastball and darting breaking pitches, allowing four hits and one walk with six strikeouts.
And while the performance does require the necessary asterisk because it was against one of the worst teams in the sport, that same team took it to the Yankees the night before.
Indeed, the Yankees needed a lift and Gil, regardless of who it came against, provided one.
After the game, Gil was sent back to Scranton.
Gil, acquired from the Twins in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave in March 2018, received plenty of run support from an offense shut down the night before. The Yankees, who went hitless in their first 21 plate appearances Monday in a 7-1 loss, had 15 hits Tuesday, an outburst that included a three-run homer by Giancarlo Stanton, which made it 9-0 in the fourth. Stanton totaled four RBIs.
Anthony Rizzo, 5-for-11 with two homers, five runs and four RBIs in his first four games with the Yankees, added two more hits and two more runs Tuesday. DJ LeMahieu also had two hits and two runs and Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Stanton contributed two hits as well. Judge’s solo homer, his 22nd, and Tyler Wade’s two-run double highlighted a four-run eighth that made it 13-1.
The Yankees (57-49) have won 11 of their last 16 and 16 of their last 24.
Long Island’s Stephen Ridings, who was born in Huntington and went to St. Anthony’s High School, made his major league debut , following Gil to the mound in the seventh and delivering mostly filth. The 6-8 Ridings, the tallest player in the Yankees’ system, took the mound with a 9-0 lead and, after missing badly with his first three pitches to fall behind 3-and-0, struck out the first batter he faced, DJ Stewart, with a 100-mph fastball. He got the second, Pedro Severino, with a curveball. Maikel Franco doubled but Ridings struck out Pat Valaika with a slider to end the 16-pitch inning (13 strikes).
"Adrenaline is the only word I can think of," Ridings said of his feeling in the bullpen. "Heart was racing. Mind was all over the place."
Gil, who said he "barely" slept Monday night after getting a surprise call from his Triple-A pitching coach, Dustin Glant, telling him he would be debuting in the Bronx the following day, could empathize with the nerves.
Though, as was the case with Ridings, it certainly didn’t show.
Gil delivered a first-pitch strike, which came in at 98 mph, to Orioles leadoff man Cedric Mullins, who would fly to left. Gil recorded his first big-league strikeout a batter later, getting Ramon Urias to swing and miss at a 99-mph fastball. Ryan Mountcastle reached on an infield single, but Anthony Santander flied to right to end the 11-pitch inning.
"I knew I was going to be nervous," Gil said through his interpreter. "Thankfully, I was able to relax throughout the whole game. I’m hoping this is just the beginning."
Yankees with 6+ innings and zero runs allowed in MLB debut:
Player Year Opp.
Slow Joe Doyle 1906 Cleve.
King Brockett 1907 Wash.
Tacks Neuer 1907 Boston
Pete Wilson 1908 Boston
Russ Van Atta 1933 Wash.
Vito Tamulis 1934 Phila.
Sam Militello 1992 Boston
Luis Gil 2021 Balt.