Nelson’s Strong Debut, Urshela’s Grand Slam Lead Yankees to 5-2 Victory Over Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox faced off against the New York Yankees on Saturday night for the second game of a three-game series. New York took Friday’s game by a score of 5-1 and notched another victory on Saturday by edging out the Red Sox, 5-2.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for his first start of the season. His season debut was delayed due to a head injury he suffered after taking a line drive to the head during a team practice earlier in July. He made quick work of the Red Sox in the first inning, striking out two batters while allowing just one hit.

The Red Sox sent Zack Godley to the mound in the bottom of the first for his first MLB start in over a year. Godley’s last start came on June 22, 2019, as he took the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a game against the San Francisco Giants. In that contest, Godley surrendered five runs on nine hits in just four innings, walking two hitters and striking out zero along the way.

Aaron Judge opened the scoring as the Yankees’ slugger launched a 455-foot home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning. This solo blast marked four straight days with a home run for Judge; this is the first time he has accomplished such a feat.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with three straight no-out singles from Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman, and Gary Sanchez (first hit of the season). Then, just one pitch later, Gio Urshela hit a grand slam that cleared the center-field wall by inches, amassing a total flight distance of 412 feet.

The Red Sox found themselves on the board in the top of the third inning after Xander Bogaerts stroked a two-run double to center field. Just feet away from being a homer, Bogaerts’s double scored Andrew Benintendi from second base. Kevin Pillar also found his way home from first base after Gleyber Torres bobbled the throw in from the outfield.

Following Bogaerts’s extra-base hit, Tanaka was pulled from the game. He finished with two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk through 2.2 innings. He also struck out three batters. While pulling Tanaka after 51 pitches and just one earned run is a peculiar decision, there was likely concern of over-using him after his extended absence due to injury. Tanaka was replaced on the mound by southpaw Luis Avilán.

In the bottom of the fourth, Godley recorded one quick out before walking back-to-back hitters in Urshela and Brett Gardner. With the top of the lineup due up next, Boston manager Ron Roenicke turned to the bullpen and called for right-hander Chris Mazza to make his Red Sox debut.

Godley finished with five runs on six hits (two home runs) through 3.1 innings. He also struck out one batter while throwing 69 total pitches. In his last three MLB starts, Godley has thrown 10.2 innings and allowed 14 earned runs, 22 hits, and six walks while striking out four batters. That’s good for 1.37 earned runs per inning and 2.75 WHIP.

Mazza struck out DJ LeMahieu for the second out of the inning but walked Aaron Judge to load the bases. However, Mazza rebounded and got Gleyber Torres to fly out to center field to end the inning.

Nick Nelson took the mound for the Yankees in the top of the fifth after Avilán retired all four batters he faced (two strikeouts) in 1.1 innings of relief work. Nelson struck out the first batter he faced (Tzu-Wei Lin) on three pitches that checked in at 96, 97, and 98 mph. He then allowed a walk to Andrew Benintendi before escaping the inning by retiring Kevin Pillar and Rafael Devers.

The Yankees and Red Sox exchanged back-and-forth scoreless half innings for the rest of the game.

Along the way, Mazza was replaced by Brasier ahead of the bottom of the seventh inning. Mazza finished with no runs on one hit and two walks through 2.2 innings. He also struck out three batters while tallying a total of 48 pitches.

New York pulled Nelson just minutes later in the top of the eighth. He was replaced by David Hale. Nelson’s MLB debut culminated after three innings as he allowed no hits and no runs. He surrendered just two walks along the way while striking out four Red Sox batters.

Josh Osich toed the rubber for Boston in the bottom of the eighth. Mike Tauchman’s third single of the day turned into a bit of a jam after he stole second base, but Osich escaped the inning without allowing any other baserunners to reach.

With just three outs separating them from a 6-1 record, the Yankees sent Hale back out to the mound. Defensively, they replaced first baseman Luke Voit with Tyler Wade. LeMahieu shifted to first base so Wade could move to second base.

Christian Vázquez opened the top of the ninth with a deep poke to left field that missed being a home run by a matter of feet. He ended up striking out for the first out. Alex Verdugo also struck out swinging for the second out. Jackie Bradley Jr. extended the game with a six-pitch walk and advanced to third base on a Lin single.

With runners on the corners, Roenicke opted to let Benintendi (.087 average) hit instead of replacing him with slugger J.D. Martinez off the bench. Benintendi ended up striking out on four pitches as the Yankees emerged victorious, 5-2. After a 5-1 win over the Red Sox on Friday, all 10 of the Yankees’ runs this series have come courtesy of the long ball.

While the bullpen was the name of the game for both sides on Saturday, starting pitching was the difference-maker. All seven runs were charged to the starters, with five against Boston’s Godley and two off of New York’s Tanaka. The rest of the game was quiet in terms of scoring as the teams’ bullpens combined for 12 scoreless half-inning frames.

The key player of the game was Nick Nelson, who pitched three innings of no-hit baseball out of the bullpen in his MLB debut. He walked two batters and struck out four.

The Red Sox and Yankees, who are set to meet a total of 10 times this season, will face off for the third and final game of this series on Sunday, Aug. 3, at 7:08 p.m. EST on ESPN. James Paxton is set to take the mound for New York as they look for the sweep. Boston is expected to utilize the opener strategy but have not announced yet which pitcher will make his way to the mound first.

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