NEW YORK -- The on-field celebration was understated on the evening that the Yankees completed their improbable charge back into postseason position, having overtaken the Red Sox for an American League Wild Card spot. Within the clubhouse walls, they always expected to go on a run like that -- even if most outsiders did not.
So gloves were slapped and hugs were exchanged, but they did not use the opportunity to gloat about this torrid stretch. It’s nice to look at the standings, as Luke Voit said shortly after the final out of the Yankees’ 2-0 victory, which completed a doubleheader sweep of Boston. But this team has bigger goals in mind.
“We’ve had the same mentality all year; we just haven’t had a lot of stuff go our way,” Voit said. “We’ve had a lot of guys step up, and it’s been great for us. I believed in everyone in this clubhouse. A lot of these guys know what to do in big situations to get the job done.”
Voit and Giancarlo Stanton homered to support another impressive start by rookie Luis Gil, helping New York (68-52) move a percentage point ahead of the Red Sox (69-53) -- quite a turnaround after New York trailed Boston by 10 1/2 games on July 5, and by nine games in their last head-to-head meeting on July 25.
“We’ve done a lot of work since then,” Stanton said. “We’ve got a lot more to go, but we’re in a good spot. We’ve just got to keep feeding off these wins, these good games, great outings on the mound and good at-bats.”
The Yanks have won five straight and 12 of 15 to move a season-high 16 games over .500.
“It’s a team that has a lot of heart and is playing with a lot of confidence,” manager Aaron Boone said. “But we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to keep the foot down on the gas and continue to grind away. It’s going to be a tough road ahead.”
Having served three stints on the injured list this season, Voit said that he understood why the club acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo ahead of the July 30 Trade Deadline. With Rizzo set to return from the COVID-19 injured list, Voit hopes there will be opportunities for both players to contribute.
“I was top 10 in the MVP [voting] last year and I’ve been a great player for this organization for the last three years,” Voit said. “I’m not going down. I want to play. Obviously, I know it’s going to be tougher with Rizzo, but I deserve to play just as much as he does. I led the Majors in home runs last year, and I feel really good again.”
Stanton launched his 19th homer of the season in the fourth inning, backing Gil, who pitched around three hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings, striking out four.
“I had a lot of adrenaline tonight,” Gil said through an interpreter. “I was very excited to face Boston. They have a really good lineup. You understand that you cannot make mistakes, so I was very focused on executing pitches.”
The Yankees’ No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Gil has twirled 15 2/3 scoreless innings to begin his Major League career, earning praise for a steely demeanor far exceeding his 23 years.
“He was pounding the zone, he wasn’t giving in,” Stanton said. “In big spots, he was challenging them. He definitely showed what he’s got out there, and it’s fun to watch.”
Wandy Peralta recorded four huge outs in relief to keep Boston off the scoreboard and set the stage for Chad Green’s save. Peralta relieved Gil in the fifth, induced Rafael Devers to bounce into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
The Red Sox threatened in the sixth against Peralta, who permitted two hits and was assisted by a deft DJ LeMahieu defensive play at second base. Peralta was hit by Bobby Dalbec’s two-out liner, then scrambled to retrieve the ball, firing a strike to first base.
“He’s not afraid of a big moment,” Boone said. “In a big spot, he wants the ball. He did a great job for us tonight and set us up, big time.”
History in the making
Gil is the only Major League pitcher since 1893 to toss at least 4 2/3 scoreless innings in each of his first three career appearances, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Gil’s 15 2/3 scoreless innings to open his career are the most by a Yankee in the Expansion Era (since 1961), surpassing Joba Chamberlain’s 15 1/3.
While Gil -- the 27th man for the doubleheader -- was returned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after the game, the right-hander almost certainly will return to help the Yankees as they continue their postseason quest.
“His charisma and confidence is unbelievable,” Voit said. “I love the swagger that he’s got out there. It’s pretty impressive, this little streak he’s got going.”