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NEW YORK (AP) — Gio Urshela hit his first big league grand slam, Aaron Judge homered for a career-high fourth straight game, and the New York Yankees extended their winning streak to five with a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Nick Nelson (1-0) pitched three hitless innings to win his major league debut.

At 6-1, the Yankees are off to their best start since 2003 – the equivalent of 16-3 over a 162-game season. Boston dropped to 3-6.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka made his season debut after recovering from a concussion sustained when he was hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive during practice on July 4. Tanaka lasted just 2 2/3 innings and 51 pitches, tiring in his second time through the order.

Xander Bogaerts chased Tanaka with an RBI double, and a second run scored on the play when shortstop Gleyber Torres dropped a throw from the outfield for an error.

Left-hander Luis Avilán followed and got four straight outs, and Nelson entered to start the fifth. A 24-year-old right-hander who pitched at three minor league levels last year, Nelson started with a three-pitch strikeout of Tzu-Wei Lin. He threw at up to 97.8 mph with four strikeouts and two walks.

David Hale finished the six-hitter for his third career save, his first this year.

Judge homered in the first inning off Zack Godley (0-1), a 455-foot drive to left-center. Urshela hit his second homer of the season an inning later for a 5-0 lead, following three straight singles with a fly into the netting above Monument Park. The Yankees’ first 10 runs of the series all scored on homers.

Urshela also made a sparkling defensive play at third base in the sixth, snagging Christian Vázquez’s grounder, steadying in foul territory and throwing on the fly to first to beat the slow-footed catcher.

Gary Sánchez reached ahead of Urshela’s homer with a single, his first hit following an 0 for 15 start.

Mike Tauchman, starting while Aaron Hicks got a night off, had three hits after an 0 for 5 start.

Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi was back in the lineup after a night off. He went 0 for 3 with a pair of walks, dropping to a 2-for-24 start (.083).
Boston left-handed batters were 0 for 16 before Rafael Devers singled off Hale in the eighth, just the sixth hit for Devers in 33 at-bats this season.

PLUGGING AHEAD

After opening at home and going to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, Boston intends to travel to Florida after Sunday night’s game for a series at Tampa Bay starting Tuesday.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is looking at the trade market despite the uncertainty caused by the novel coronavirus.

“You have to plan for a complete season,” he said. “We know that that is not a sure thing.”

NIGHT OFF

J.D. Martinez was out of the Boston starting lineup after starting 7 for 37 (.219) with no homers and three RBIs. “I’m hoping by doing this that maybe we’ll get the next two months that’ll be really good from him,” manager Ron Roenicke said. New prohibitions on in-game use of video could be a factor. “It probably affects J.D. a little more than anybody because he uses video more than anybody,” Roenicke said. “He’s one of the few guys, a few players that in-game can look at a video to see what he is doing wrong and correct.”

MOVING AROUND

Red Sox: C Jonathan Lucroy cleared waivers and was assigned outright to the Pawtucket alternate training site.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Luis Cessa (COVID-19) pitched two innings of batting practice before the game, and New York manager Aaron Boone expects he will be activated in the next few days.

UP NEXT

LHP James Paxton (0-1) starts Sunday’s series finale after averaging 92 mph with his fastball in his opening start at Washington, down from nearly 96 mph last year. Paxton had back surgery in February. “My arm angle was low. I was kind of bending over too far my way on my way to the plate. So I’ve been working on my posture, standing up a little bit straighter,” he said.

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Michael Flynn’s case back in court after Justice Department’s move to drop charges

All 10 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments Tuesday about whether the government should drop charges against President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn, who in 2017 pleaded guilty twice in federal court to lying to the FBI about his discussions with a top Russian official during the presidential transition.

Flynn’s case was upended this May when the Department of Justice abruptly called on the D.C. Circuit Court to drop the charges. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan sought counsel from a retired federal judge following the extraordinary motion, but Flynn’s personal lawyers took the matter to the court of appeals ahead of a decision.

In a surprising split decision, a three-judge panel led by Trump appointee Neomi Rao ruled in Flynn’s favor. However, the appellate court chose to rehear the case “en banc” before its full panel of judges: the three judges from the initial ruling, plus their seven colleagues. Of the 10 judges, seven were appointed by Democratic presidents and three by Republicans.

The hearings, scheduled to begin Tuesday, will determine the course of action available to Sullivan. Experts have laid out essentially three possibilities. Will the judges side with the Justice Department and dismiss the case outright? Will they kick the case back to Sullivan given Flynn could still appeal his decision through other channels? Or will the court reassign the matter to a different judge should it decide that Sullivan can no longer rule on the contentious case with impartiality?

“The court has asked the parties to focus on the issue of whether there is any other adequate remedy besides a writ of mandamus,” former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told Salon, referencing the initial order handed down to Sullivan by the three-judge panel.

Mandamus is “a rare last resort,” McQuade, who argued that Flynn still has “a perfectly adequate remedy” through appeal, said.

“Unless Flynn or DOJ can explain why that route is inadequate, I would fully expect the en banc court to deny the writ of mandamus and send the case back to Judge Sullivan to decide the motion to dismiss,” McQuade said.

“The rule requiring ‘leave of court’ for dismissal is to protect defendants from harassment and the public from corrupt decisions to go easy on powerful people,” she added. “I am almost certain the court will deny the writ of mandamus and send the case back to Judge Sullivan.”

Though the question at hand is narrow, the case has become about much more than Flynn’s fate. Trump and his allies, including Attorney General William Barr, have commandeered the case as a vehicle to counterattack alleged “deep state” officials over accusations that federal agents acted improperly when they investigated counterintelligence threats in 2016.

Further, Flynn’s guilty pleas play a central role in the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, which casts the former three-star general — who served under former President Barack Obama — as a martyr, persecuted for his inside knowledge of the previous administration’s alleged efforts to undermine Trump.

A number of the QAnon flock even believe Flynn may be “Q” himself, with some adding three “gold star” emojis to their Twitter pages as a nod to the retired general’s military rank. Flynn fueled the rumors after Barr moved to dismiss his case, tweeting a July 4 video of himself and a group of family and friends swearing allegiance to Q. Several individuals tagged in the tweet have added the gold stars to their profiles, including two attorneys.

But Barr’s move sent shockwaves through the legal world, with nearly 1,200 former Justice Department prosecutors and officials signing on to a petition to encourage Sullivan to hear the case out, in addition to other legal experts.

“There is nothing in the public record to justify this dismissal,” McQuade told Salon at the time. “Flynn lied to the FBI about undermining U.S. foreign policy with Russia.”

Barr, for his part, told CBS News in May that “people sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes.”

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