The Orioles were expected to face Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, but the right-hander was scratched Monday night after testing positive for COVID-19.
On Monday, Gil thought he was going to still be pitching for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre the next day. But he received the call that night telling him he was going to the big leagues.
“I was so excited, I called my family. I barely slept. The emotions and everything I felt were going through my head,” Gil said through an interpreter. “I prayed a lot. I asked for guidance, because I knew I was going to be nervous.”
By the time Gil reached the Yankee Stadium mound, he kept his emotions in check. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out six. Gil relied heavily on his four-seam fastball -- clocked as high as 98.5 mph -- and slider to get quick outs.
“Thankfully, I was able to relax. Thank God, myself and the team were able to work together very well,” Gil said.
After the game, the Yankees returned Gil to Triple-A. But not before he became the first Yanks pitcher to throw at least six scoreless innings in his Major League debut since Sam Militello, who tossed seven against the Red Sox on Aug. 9, 1992.
"[Gil] has a great arm, but we knew we had to push his fastball down and didn’t really do that,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We were too aggressive against a pitcher with really good stuff."
From the start, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he loved the fact that Gil threw early strikes, as well as the way that he worked with catcher Gary Sánchez.
“He was getting [strike one] all night. He was able to land his breaking ball and threw some good changeups, too,” Boone said. “So he had a presence with his secondary pitches. As we talked about before the game, the fastball really plays. It’s great velocity and it has great characteristics. He was pounding the strike zone.”
Gil was never in any serious trouble. Baltimore had runners on first and second with two outs in both the fourth and sixth, but Gil escaped both jams without allowing any damage.
Gil wasn’t the only Yankees pitcher to make his Major League debut, as relievers Stephen Ridings and Brody Koerner also both took a big league mound for the first time. It was the second time in Yanks history that three pitchers debuted in the same game. The first time was Sept. 26, 1950, when Lew Burdette, Dave Madison and Ernie Nevel debuted against the Senators.
Ridings struck out the side in the seventh, allowing only a two-out double to Maikel Franco. Koerner allowed one run on two hits and one walk over two innings.
“It was our first time seeing [Ridings] in person," Boone said. "The stuff was impressive from the side. He had a little strut out there. We were impressed with his demeanor."
Gil received more than enough support to win his first Major League game, as the Yankees had a 9-0 lead after four innings. Giancarlo Stanton had a big night, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs. He had an RBI single during New York's five-run rally in the third against O's starter Alexander Wells, then swatted a three-run homer off Adam Plutko an inning later.
The Yankees were glad to see Stanton get into a groove. He hadn't homered since July 20 and was 7-for-39 over his previous 12 games.
“It was good to get some RBIs and help the team keep punching,” Stanton said.
Added Boone, “It’s been a little bit of a down month for 'G.' We know when he gets rolling well, he can carry us. He is so critical to the middle of our lineup. For him to get a big base hit early on as part of that big rally we had [in the third], and then to stick one in the seats the other way, it was good to see.”
New York delivered the knockout blow by scoring four runs in the eighth against Baltimore right-hander Shaun Anderson. Aaron Judge capped the scoring with a solo homer.