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The New York Yankees are rolling. In a very strange 2020 Major League Baseball season, one thing has remained constant – the Yankees are still good. The Yankees won their fifth straight Saturday when they knocked off their rival Boston Red Sox 5-2. During the win, they got a huge boost from rookie Nick Nelson. When the game was over, the Yankees showed their appreciation for the 24-year-old after his first big-league appearance.

Who is Nick Nelson?

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Nick Nelson is a right-handed pitcher who was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB draft. The New York Yankees picked the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Nelson after playing at Gulf Coast Community College in Florida. In five seasons in the minors, Nelson compiled a 20-24 record after being primarily used as a starting pitcher.

Nelson didn’t even make it to Triple-A until last season. He started four games at Scranton Wilkes-Barre, going 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA. He did have his best season last year, but that came at the Double-A level in Trenton. With Trenton, he went 7-2 and had a 2.35 ERA.

With Trenton, Nelson surrendered 48 hits in 65 innings pitched. He struck out 83 and walked 35. The hard-throwing Nelson finished with one complete game. With injuries and fatigue affecting some of the Yankees pitchers, Nelson got the call to make his first appearance Saturday.

Nelson made MLB debut Saturday against the Red Sox

Although there weren’t any fans to witness the game in person, Nick Nelson got himself into a big-league scorebook Saturday. Nelson, being used as a reliever, got the call to begin the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox. He was looking to protect the Yankees 5-2 lead.

Nelson is one of the Yankees’ nice collection of young arms that manager Aaron Boone is excited to see. “As I’ve talked about really since spring and on through summer camp, one of the things that I’m excited about is, a lot of the young arms that are knocking on the door and Nelson’s one of those,” Boone said to “And he was great (Saturday night). You saw the high velocity fastball really playing up at the top of the zone. A really good changeup, which is a really good pitch for him.”

With Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton unavailable due to fatigue, Nelson pitched the fifth through seventh innings and mowed down the Sox. He finished with four strikeouts and two walks and did not allow a hit. The Yankees went on to defeat the Red Sox 5-2. “I thought he was terrific,” Boone said.

The Yankees reward Nelson for his performance

Nick Nelson said it felt strange to pitch in an empty stadium. He also said it might have been for the best so he could ease his way into seeing what the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is. It “might have been good to kind of ease in this way,’’ said Nelson to “Although, I’d love to have the fans around, especially with the rivalry between us and the Red Sox.’’

The Yankees were staked to a 5-2 lead before Nelson made his big-league debut on the mound. Gio Urshela’s second-inning grand slam helped the Yankees build that lead after Aaron Judge’s solo homer in the first had put the Yankees on the board. Judge has homered in four straight games.

At the end of the game, however, it was neither Urshela nor Judge who was awarded the Yankees championship belt, signifying the player of the game. That went to Nelson. After the game, Nelson told that his phone was blowing up with congratulatory messages. Add in a championship belt, and it was a pretty good night for Nelson. “That was a pretty cool thing, for sure,” he said of receiving the belt.