Sunday, April 7, 2024

Yanks Jolt Jays As Gil Returns In Style & Giancarlo Goes Off


Giancarlo Stanton is ready to high five Juan Soto after his grand slam. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees rolled to an 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium to take two out of three games their weekend series and continue the strong start to their season.

Luis Gil, who missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery, got the start for the Yankees, and he his first start in nearly two years at Yankee Stadium was superb.

The big right-hander went 4 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on two hits and four walks, with eight strikeouts.

The first pitch he threw was up an in on George Springer, which brought a round of cheers to begin Gil's afternoon. He worked around a walk to Bo Bichette to pitch a scoreless first before retiring the Jays in order in the second.

Luis Gil throwing one up and in on George Springer to open Sunday's proceedings. Photo by Jason Schott.

Then, in the third, he ran into some trouble after he struck out the first two Toronto hitters. Springer laced a single to right field, then Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was hit by a pitch before Bichetted walked to load the bases. 

Alejandro Kirk then drew another walk to force in a run and make it 1-0 Toronto. Cavan Biggio then struck out looking to end the frame.

In the bottom of the third, the Yankees got to Toronto starter Bowden Francis. He walked Oswaldo Cabrera with one outs, and then Juan Soto laced a single to right field before Aaron Judge walked to load the bases. Anthony Rizzo then drew a walk to bring in a run and tie it at 1.

Giancarlo Stanton, who homered in Saturday night's 9-8 Yankees win, was up next, and he tore into one that was a no-doubter the second he hit it. The grand slam made it 5-1 Yankees. It was his third homer of the season, along with six RBI in the Yankees' first 10 games.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Stanton's blast, "That was a jolt, one of those we know right away; I know I reacted to it. Just a really good at-bat, obviously an inning that we built and guys just had really good at-bats in front of him just to set that situation up, and got a pitch that he didn't miss, and it turned out to be the blow of the day, but, you know, G's been, he's been in the at-bats, you know, all year is kind of what I've been seeing. Just not getting the results yet, having some swing-and-miss in there, but you know, obviously the last couple of days, good to get some results and big time blow of the day."

Giancarlo Stanton approaching first base on his grand slam, as the intense crowd goes wild. Photo by Jason Schott.

Gil then worked around a walk to Daulton Varsho to pitch a scoreless fourth, and then in the fifth, he got Springer to ground out before Guerrero Jr. laced a double to left, and that was it for Gil.

Boone said of Gil's performance, "Honestly, I thought he was missing a little bit (in the third inning), and I felt like that got the best of him a little bit out there emotionally and I just wanted him to focus on execution, like 'don't get caught up in that,' you can't get reactive or emotional that a call doesn't go your way, it's about executing, and I thought he did a really good job after that tough inning of kind of settling in, getting back in the strike zone a little bit and attacking better. So, good learning moment, he settled in, obviously we wanted him to get a little bit deeper, but you know, gave us one-run baseball into the fifth inning and set us up today, so but just making sure you're under control when things aren't going your way in the moment."

Jake Cousins was first out of the Yankees bullpen, and he was greeted by a Bichette double to bring in Guerrero Jr., and that made it 5-2 Yankees.

Toronto got another run back in the sixth when Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled off Cousins, and then he came in on a force out by Guerrero Jr. against Nick Burdi.

In the bottom of the sixth, with Tim Mayza in for the Jays, Anthony Volpe singled, took second base on a walk by Austin Wells, moved to third on a fly out from Cabrera, and then scored on a wild pitch from Trevor Richards.

The Yankees put it away in the eighth when Volpe singled, stole both second and third bases, and came in to score on a Cabrera single. Soto would bring in Cabrera with a sac fly to make it 8-3 Yankees.

This win brings the Yankees' record to 8-2, and Boone said of what his biggest takeaway from these ten games is, "Early, and we've been able to win games in different ways. Again, like in a lot of ways, I don't even feel like we're totally clicking offensively yet, yet we're doing what we need to do. We're seemingly making a big play when we have to, we're gotten enough starting pitching, bullpen's been really great. You know, it's been a little bit different, and obviously, three really good opponents (Houston, Arizona, Toronto), but we're ten games into the marathon, like it's, you know, again, I'd say that to you if we were off to a tough start. It's great to rack them up, like they all count, so, but it's been good, I feel like every guy in there's contributed, and especially early, that's what you need. You need guys to, you know, you can't lean on the same guys every night, so we've  found a lot of different ways to win games these first ten days."

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR RASH OF INJURIES TO YOUNG ARMS: Luis Gil is one of many young pitchers the Yankees have who has missed significant time with an arm injury. 

This past Friday, the right-handed reliever Jonathan Loaisiga was placed on the 60-day injured list with a right flexor strain, the latest in a long line of injuries that have hindered what looked like a promising young career.

Boone was asked on Sunday morning if velocity is one of the culprits in this unending stream of injuries, and he said, “Sure. I mean, I think, throwing is not the most natural motion, and I think velocity certainly is part of it, but it’s just stuff overall, breaking stuff, whatever it may be, and guys have come so far in their training, that’s why you see so many people with so much quality stuff, and then it becomes a bit of an arms race, like if you want to pitch nowadays, it’s hard to not chase that, what your competition is doing, so there’s no easy answer for it. You know, it is disturbing, the amount of injuries that are happening. You know. I think we’re getting better about how you build guys up, but that’s a big thing, getting ramped up in a safe way; but the amount of stuff that guys have now across the board I’m sure if a factor.”

The players’ union released a statement Saturday that alleges the pitch clock could be having a deleterious effect on pitching. Boone was not asked about that, per se, but if the pitch clock is a factor in these injuries, and he said, “I think it could be one of the factors; it’s possible, I don’t know that for sure, but yeah, I think everything’s kind of on the table, part of the stew that’s causing some of it.”

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