Gil returns to form, but Yanks still can't stop Devers

July 8th, 2024

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have not reached the point where Rafael Devers receives the same treatment that Barry Bonds once did -- issued intentional walks across the board, preferring to give up one base rather than four. But perhaps that day is coming.

For the second straight game, the Yankees trusted their starter to face Devers a third time through the order, and the result was the same: a home run. surrendered a Devers blast to spoil an otherwise magnificent outing, and the Red Sox’s slugger later added a second homer as the Yankees fell, 3-0, on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s a great player. We see that sometimes on the other side with a couple of our guys,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We invest a lot into where to get him. He’s definitely a guy that has performed incredibly well. We’d like to do a better job against him.”

Luke Weaver also surrendered a Ceddanne Rafaela homer as the Yankees lost two of three games against Boston, falling to 0-6-1 in their past seven series. The Yankees have 16 losses in their past 22 games.

“It’s tough. Everybody is aware of what we are going through,” said outfielder Juan Soto. “But I think the energy is still up. We still believe. We grind every day, and come in with the same energy. Everything is really positive on our side.”

While the Yankees remained inconsistent, shut out for the sixth time this season one day after scoring 14 runs behind Ben Rice’s historic three-homer showing, Devers’ performance has been an inescapable reality.

Continuing to cement his reputation as a Yankees killer, the All-Star added a ninth-inning homer off Michael Tonkin, improving to .451 (23-for-51) with 17 runs, seven homers and 15 RBIs in his past 15 games against the Bombers.

Devers’ 28 homers against the Yankees are the most of any active player. Sixteen of those have come at Yankee Stadium, tied with Evan Longoria for the third most by any opponent since the venue opened in 2009, trailing only José Bautista (19) and Edwin Encarnacion (18).

“We know the type of ballpark this is,” Devers said. “This is one of the best in the league. Everything feels better than any other ballpark, so it’s very nice to hit here.”

New York’s offense had no answers for right-hander Kutter Crawford, who matched Gil inning for inning with brisk economy -- just 40 pitches through five frames, 54 through six and 68 through seven.

The Yanks didn’t have a runner in scoring position until DJ LeMahieu’s two-out double in the sixth. Soto doubled to lead off the seventh, but he was stranded at third base as Aaron Judge struck out, Alex Verdugo grounded out and Anthony Volpe lined out.

“Our starter threw the ball great today,” Soto said. “We just had to score a couple of runs for him.”

Bypassed for the American League All-Star team after three rough starts, Gil recaptured his dominant strike-throwing form, fanning nine without a walk over 6 2/3 innings.

Gil’s slider was particularly sharp, with Boone saying that the pitch appeared the best it has all season.

“I focused on executing pitches,” Gil said through an interpreter. “I worked extremely hard to be able to execute and just take that into the game.”

That success may have influenced Boone’s decision to ride with Gil against Devers, as he did on Saturday with Gerrit Cole.

“The way Luis was throwing the ball and where he was, I felt very good about him,” Boone said.

In Saturday’s game, Cole surrendered a third-inning RBI single to Devers with first base open, then allowed a homer in the fifth that ended his day -- decisions obscured when the Yanks rallied for seven runs in the bottom half.

On Sunday, Boone said there was no discussion about issuing Devers a free pass.

“I’m not going to intentionally walk him with the bases empty there in a 0-0 game,” Boone said. “We know who he is. We know where he is. Yeah, I hear you. Obviously, we’re being careful and trying to get in spots and stay away from slug. Those kinds of things matter, but to me that’s not even a consideration of putting him on in a 0-0 game.”