Luis Gil, Anthony Volpe help extend Yankees’ start to best since 1992 with win over Diamondbacks

Luis Gil, Anthony Volpe help extend Yankees’ start to best since 1992 with win over Diamondbacks

PHOENIX — When news came down that Gerrit Cole would have to miss at least the first two months of the season with an elbow injury, there were questions about how the Yankees would survive.

It has only been five games, but they are 5-0 and his replacement continued to impress in his first regular-season opportunity Monday night.

There is no way to make up for losing the reigning AL Cy Young winner, but the Yankees are trying their best, with a relentless offense and on Monday, Luis Gil showing his new and improved stuff would play beyond the Grapefruit League.

In what was also his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2022, Gil’s blazing fastball carved up the Diamondbacks to help send the Yankees to their fifth straight win to start the season, a 5-2 victory at Chase Field.

Luis Gil helped the Yankees win their fifth consecutive game to start the season. AP Anthony Volpe sparked the Yankees’ offense with a four-hit game Monday. USA TODAY Sports

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The Yankees are now 5-0 for the first time since 1992 (which proved to be the most recent time the team has finished a season under .500) and only the fourth time in franchise history.

With plenty of early run support from the offense — led by the first four-hit game of Anthony Volpe’s career — Gil struck out six while giving up just one hit and one run across 4 ²/₃ innings.

He did walk three, which helped drive his pitch count up to 84, at which point his night ended since he had built up to 75 pitches the last time out in a simulated game on Wednesday in Houston.

But by the time Aaron Boone got to the mound, the Yankees’ infield had already surrounded Gil with celebratory slaps on the back.

Before Boone took the ball, he shook Gil’s hand and talked with him after the 25-year-old’s first major league outing since May 12, 2022 — 12 days before Gil underwent Tommy John surgery.

Gil lit up the radar gun, with five of his six strikeouts coming on his fastball at velocities of 98, 99 and 100 mph.

He mixed in enough changeups and sliders to keep the Diamondbacks off-balance, quieting them after they had piled up 32 runs in their first four games of the season.

Averaging 97.7 mph with his fastball (it averaged 96.1 mph when he made six starts for the Yankees in 2021), Gil carried his velocity into the fifth inning.

The second-to-last batter he faced, Jake McCarthy, struck out on a 98 mph heater.

Considering that Gil had hardly pitched at all in a year and a half entering spring training, the Yankees had optioned him to minor league camp on March 3 to give him time to build up properly.

The Yankees secured their best start since 1992 with a fifth consecutive win. USA TODAY Sports Juan Soto dives to make a catch in right field during the Yankees’ win against the Diamondbacks on Monday. AP

A few days later they found out they would need a fifth starter with Cole injured, and Gil suddenly forced his way back into the picture with an impressive spring.

“He kicked the door in,” Boone said before the game. “We had other good options too for that spot and Luis, with the way he looked from jump in spring training, he earned that spot. If he goes out and executes, he can be as good as anyone.”

The Yankees gave him some early breathing room, picking up right where they left off in Houston.

They put together tough at-bats up and down the lineup and knocked Diamondbacks starter Ryne Nelson out of the game by the third inning.

Luis Gil allowed just one run while making the start for the Yankees on Monday. Getty Images

They forced Nelson to throw 76 pitches across 2 ²/₃ innings, at which point they had raced out to a 5-0 lead.

Volpe led off the second inning with the first of his two doubles on the night and eventually scored on Oswaldo Cabrera’s bloop single.

Gleyber Torres then drilled a double to the gap to make it 2-0.

Walks by Anthony Rizzo and Alex Verdugo (on 10 pitches) sparked the third-inning rally, with Volpe driving in Rizzo on a single up the middle for the 3-0 lead.

Austin Wells then hit a sacrifice fly that ultimately plated a pair of runs — Verdugo from third and Volpe from first, thanks to a pair of errors along the way.