NEW YORK — Jonathan Loaisiga broke a bat and induced a possible double-play grounder, yet the Yankees reliever somehow still faced the bases full of Red Sox with no outs.
“He didn’t flinch,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Loaisiga stranded the bases loaded in Boston’s final at-bat for a gutsy two-inning save after New York capitalized on a wild outing by Red Sox relievers, and the Yankees held on for a 5-3 win Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
The right-hander pitched a perfect sixth before Boston loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh on three singles — two of them soft, well-placed grounders. Pinch-hitter Travis Shaw lined out to left in his first at-bat since being claimed off waivers Sunday, but the ball wasn’t deep enough for a sacrifice fly.
The 26-year-old Loaisiga then struck out Kiké Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe — the latter on a caught foul tip — and let out a vicious yell following his fifth save.
The Yankees have won four straight, each with a save from a different reliever — the second time New York has done that since saves became an official stat in 1969, per Elias.
Loaisiga and Chad Green have become Boone’s top choices to close out games with Aroldis Chapman sidelined by left elbow inflammation and veteran Zack Britton in a rut. Boone pushed the Loaisiga through 34 pitches to keep Green and other arms fresh for the late game.
“You could just see his confidence out there, like, ‘I got this,’” Boone said. “He was able to execute and wiggle out of it.”
The Yankees have played a majors-most 67 games decided by two runs or fewer. Their .657 winning percentage (44-23) in those games is best in the big leagues.
They have won 11 of 14 to pull within a game of Boston for an AL wild-card spot. The Red Sox snapped out of a 3-11 slump over the weekend with a three-game sweep of last-place Baltimore, but they’re still four games back of AL East-leading Tampa Bay after leading the division for much of the season.
Red Sox relievers Garrett Whitlock (4-2) and Josh Taylor combined to walk the bases loaded with one out in the fifth inning before Luke Voit floated a two-run single to shallow center. Second baseman Hernandez sprinted back for the ball but came up inches short of making a sliding basket catch, allowing New York to go ahead 4-3.
Pinch-hitter Giancarlo Stanton followed with an RBI single as New York sent nine to the plate in the inning. Boston’s relievers walked six over two innings, loading the bases three times but limiting the Yankees to three runs.
“We were trying to get a double play there with Whitlock and Taylor,” catcher Christian Vazquez said. “A couple chase breaking balls, let’s see if they chase, and they took very good pitches. Nothing we can do there.”
Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez and starter Jordan Montgomery returned from the COVID-19 injured list. Montgomery allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first appearance since Aug. 1. Sánchez was 0 for 3.
Albert Abreu (2-0) got the final out of the fifth and the win.
Vazquez led off the fifth with a tiebreaking homer against Montgomery that reached the second deck in left field. It was his fifth homer of the season and first since June 27, a span of 34 games played.
“It feels good,” he said. “About time.”
Bronx-born Yankee Andrew Velazquez got his first RBIs in pinstripes with a two-run single off starter Tanner Houck in the second that put New York ahead 2-0. Boston tied it on Xander Bogaerts’ two-run single in the third.
“Just another day, better seats,” he joked. “No, it was a culmination of a lot of things. … That hit alone made everything worth it.”
COMING BACK FROM COVID
Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo and reliever Clay Holmes remain out after positive virus tests. Rizzo could return as soon as Wednesday.
The Red Sox got first base coach Tom Goodwin back after he was a close contact to bench coach Will Venable, who tested positive while the team was in Toronto. Both were forced to quarantine in Canada. Venable hoped to rejoin the team as soon as Tuesday night. Taylor was also activated two days after being added to the COVID-19 IL.
Red Sox: INF Christian Arroyo (left hamstring strain) was set to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester. … OF Danny Santana (left groin strain) could start a rehab assignment this week. … RHP Ryan Brasier, who was hit in the head by a line drive while rehabbing from a left calf strain, will throw Wednesday and Thursday for Worcester. … RHP Matt Andriese was designated for assignment.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino will be shut down from throwing this week while he awaits a second opinion for his tight right shoulder. Severino had an MRI on Monday, but Boone declined to share details on the diagnosis until the second opinion came back, likely on Wednesday or Thursday. … INF/OF Miguel Andújar (left wrist strain) was scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
New York left-hander Luis Gil (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was set to make his third big league start in the nightcap against Boston right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (10-7, 3.91).
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