Gio Urshela’s Grand Slam propels scorching Yankees past Red Sox

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The Yankees could hardly have scripted the start of this season better.With Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Red Sox, they’ve taken it to five in a row and their roster looks to be as good as advertised.

Now they just have to see if this crazy 60-game season really gets played.

In the meantime, they’ll be going for the Boston Sunday series sweep in the Bronx.

Aaron Judge’s home run and Gio Urshela’s grand slam a set later sparked the offensive with the first five points for Masahiro Tanaka, who made his debut after returning from a concussion suffered last month when he was hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton liner in a simulated game.

And then Aaron Boone left some lesser-known names in the bullpen to protect the head.

As pitchers fall into the league, Boone said he was careful with his high leverage box arms, which is why Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino weren’t available.

Gio Urshela rolls his eyes after winning a grand slam in the second inning of the Yankees' 5-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday night.
Gio Urshela rolls his eyes after winning a grand slam in the second inning of the Yankees’ 5-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday night.Corey Sipkin

“We try to be smart from the start and develop them,” Boone said. “We know we have to lean on other guys every now and then.”

Especially with Tommy Kahnle gone and Aroldis Chapman still absent.

After Boston reduced the lead to 5-2 in the third when Tanaka gave up a brace to Xander Bogaerts, Boone went with left-hander Luis Avilan to face southpaw Mitch Moreland. Avilan responded by getting an out to keep the game at three points.

The Yankees wasted a chance to strengthen their lead in the fourth when Gleyber Torres flew left with the bases loaded to complete the set.

While Avilan was the first of the smaller arms Boone turned to on Saturday, perhaps the most notable was Nick Nelson, who made his MLB debut and delivered three scoreless innings to claim the victory. .

Starting in the minors, the 24-year-old was a fourth-round pick and finished last season with Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre. He could play a variety of roles this season, according to Boone.

He got help from Urshela, who showed all sides of his game.

On top of the homer, Urshela caught the Red Sox napping after her walk in fourth and stole a base. Then Urshela showed her defense.

Nelson got the final early in the sixth when Christian Vazquez hit a Grounder on the third baseline. Urshela lined him up and while going into foul territory, first shot a perfect shot at Voit.

“He’s a good player,” Boone said of Urshela. “We’ve seen this since the start of last year. He had the big bang tonight.

It was Urshela’s first career grand slam and his second home run in as many games as his success against the Red Sox continues.

Since joining the Yankees last season, Urshela is 22 for 57 (0.386) with eight doubles, five homers and 16 RBIs in 18 games against Boston.

The lead provided by the judge and Urshela stood up, in part, because David Hale – who replaced Nelson to open the eighth – pitched two blank innings to close it.

At 6-1, the Yankees and 4-3 Orioles (the Orioles!) Are the only AL East teams with a winning record and the Yanks are set to face Boston again on Sunday before playing a Phillies team for four games from Monday that have not played since last Sunday due to coronavirus concerns.

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