Vidal Nuño, three relievers combine to shut out Red Sox, 6-0
The evening began with an animated Joe Girardi defending his decision to pitch Vidal Nuño in the series opener against the Red Sox when he had a chance to skip the struggling lefty and use Masahiro Tanaka.
It ended with Nuño picking up his second victory of the season with 52/3 innings of two-hit ball in the Yankees' 6-0 win before a sellout crowd of 48,522 at Yankee Stadium.
And the Yankees get to see Tanaka Saturday night on an extra day's rest against the defending World Series champions (36-44).
Derek Jeter had two singles in his first two at-bats as a 40-year-old (his birthday was Thursday) and Kelly Johnson, Brett Gardner and Brian McCann homered as the Yankees improved to 6-2 against Boston this year.
Nuño (2-4, 5.42 ERA) got a standing ovation as he walked off with two outs in the sixth. Usually it's Girardi who gets a sarcastic standing ovation when he comes out to remove Nuño, who entered with a 7.09 ERA and 13 homers allowed in 391/3 innings at the Stadium in 2014.
Nuño, who walked two and struck out five, was removed after 91 pitches after walking David Ortiz. Before that, he had retired 10 in a row.
After a day off, Girardi apparently wanted to be as aggressive with his bullpen as he was with a reporter who asked before the game why he didn't skip Nuño.
"OK, who should I start?" Girardi asked. When told Tanaka would have been on regular rest, Girardi said: "I'm going to say this the last time today. The last time, because I've answered this question 10 times. I'm not irritated, but I don't understand."
Girardi, who clearly was irritated, went on in great detail about why he likes to give his starters an extra day when possible. He ended by saying, "Question answered."
Nuño also answered some questions after walking leadoff man Brock Holt. He struck out Dustin Pedroia, got Ortiz to pop to second and caught Mike Napoli looking at a 91-mph fastball.
"It's been tough," Nuño said. "Lately, just knowing that my command wasn't there. I've been working on it and pretty much it's a confidence-booster like today to show that I can still belong here and to attack these guys and with my stuff, I can win games."
Asked if he had been worried that another bad outing could cost him his spot, he said: "Probably."
But no worries. Girardi knows he really doesn't have any other options. "I've had confidence in him," he said. "But we're in a situation, these are the five guys that we have. It's the bottom line. He's pitched some good games for us. He really has."
After Nuño left, Dellin Betances walked Napoli before getting Daniel Nava to hit into an inning-ending forceout at third. Adam Warren and Matt Thornton completed the shutout.
Boston starter Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27 ERA) allowed four runs in seven innings.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the first. Jeter singled to right on the first pitch he saw in his 40s, moved to third on Jacoby Ellsbury's double inside the first-base bag and scored on Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly to left.
In the fourth, Johnson hit his fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot to right. Gardner's seventh homer made it 4-0. It was the fourth time the Yankees have gone back-to-back this year.
McCann added a two-run shot into the second deck in rightfield off lefty Craig Breslow in the eighth. It was his ninth homer.
Notes & quotes: CC Sabathia (knee) will make his first rehab start Saturday for Class A Tampa.