Gio Urshela’s grand slam propels red-hot Yankees past Red Sox
The Yankees could have hardly scripted the start to this season any better.
With Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Red Sox, they’ve won five straight and their lineup looks to be as good as advertised.
And in Saturday’s win, Gio Urshela showed last season was no fluke.
Now, the Yankees just have to see if this crazy, 60-game season will actually be played.
In the meantime, they’ll go for the series sweep over Boston on Sunday in The Bronx.
Aaron Judge homered for a fourth straight game with a first-inning blast.
“I’ve been excited about Aaron since before summer camp, when he got cleared to start hitting and everything was going well right away,’’ Boone said of Judge, who was sidelined during spring training in March with a fractured rib. “He got a lot of at-bats and looked really good. He was able to do a lot because he physically felt good. He’s impacting us in such a big way.”
He’s not alone.
They added four runs in the second. Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez each singled to lead off the inning and load the bases for Urshela, who hit a grand slam that bounced off the top of the wall in center to make it 5-0.
The Yankees also welcomed back Masahiro Tanaka, who made his first start of the season after he was hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive during a simulated game on July 4.
Tanaka, on a strict pitch count, allowed two runs — one earned — in 2 ²/₃ innings. He was pulled after 51 pitches after running into trouble in the top of the third.
He walked Andrew Benintendi with one out and then allowed a single to Kevin Pillar. After Rafael Devers lined out to center for the second out, Tanaka gave up a double to right-center to Xander Bogaerts. That drove in Benintendi and Pillar scored when Gleyber Torres misplayed the throw into second.
Boone went with left-hander Luis Avilan to face the lefty-swinging Mitch Moreland and Avilan responded by getting a strikeout to keep it a three-run game.
The Yankees squandered a chance to pad their lead in the fourth. Urshela and Brett Gardner drew one out walks to force Boston starter Zack Godley from the game. After Chris Mazza struck out DJ LeMahieu, Judge walked to load the bases, but Gleyber Torres flied to center to end the threat.
While Avilan was the first of the lesser bullpen arms Boone turned to on Saturday, the most notable may have been Nick Nelson, who made his MLB debut and delivered three scoreless innings. The 24-year-old was a fourth-round pick and finished last season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He got some help from Urshela, who showed off all facets of his game.
In addition to the homer, Urshela caught the Red Sox napping after his walk in the fourth and stole a base. And then Urshela displayed his defense later in the game.
Nelson got the final out of the top of the sixth when Christian Vazquez hit a grounder down the third base line. Urshela fielded it and while going into foul territory and fired a perfect throw to Voit at first.
David Hale took over in the seventh and pitched the final three innings.
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