Nestor Cortes Jr & His Mustache & NY Bullpen Shutout Houston 4-0

Nestor Cortes Jr.did it again — pitched Great for the Yankees — shutting down Houston through almost 5 innings as the starting pitcher; his 2nd consecutive start. And the NY bullpen picked up where he left off with 4.1 shutout innings as the Yankees beat the Astros 4-0 on a Friday night in Houston. The Astros only got 3 hits.

The 45-42 Yankees have now won 3 of 4 and have inched back to 9 behind Boston. NY is now tied with Toronto for 3rd.

1. Cortes Brilliant Again

Cortes has apparently replaced Michael King as a starter, and unlike King, Cortes doesn’t get too cute when he starts the game — he comes right after hitters. In this game he threw an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning — groundout, groundout, lineout — and just like that the Yanks were into the 2nd.

Cortes’ Pitches

Cortes throws an array of pitches: his fastball is only 92-MPH but you have to see it coming, because he’s just as likely to throw an 89-MPH sinker, a 72-MPH curve, an 85-MPH slider, and an 83-MPH changeup — all for location.

“His fastball plays up, he’s got a good spin to it, so he can pitch a lot of different ways,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards. “Obviously he messes with your timing with his delivery that’s unique — he does some things every now and then that will throw you off: he’ll drop arm angles on you every now and then; he’ll cut the ball in on you; he can take something off and really backdoor stuff to you.”

“He obviously gives you a lot of different looks and a lot of deceptive looks — but I think sometimes what gets lost is that he has better stuff than I think people think,” added Boone. “I think they just think he’s this crafty guy out there. He’s got pretty good stuff, and his heater definitely plays.”

When Boone’s comments were told to Cortes, he kind of agreed: “A lot of people think I’m a crafty lefty,” said Cortes afterwards. “which I am to a certain point. But I think my pitches have gotten a little crisper.”

Pulled 1 Out Away from a Win

Cortes was pitching a 2-hit shutout in the 5th, with a 2-0 lead, when he walked light-hitting shortstop Robel Garcia on 4 pitches. With the lefty Cortes at 74 pitches and righty batter Jose Altuve due up — manager Aaron Boone yanked him to bring in lefty Lucas Luetge, who struck out Altuve for the final out.

The move robbed Cortes of a win that he was 1-out away from qualifying for. Boone has done this all season to starting pitchers at the back of the rotation — Jordan Montgomery and Michael King especially. But the move made sense and worked. Cortes threw 59 pitches his last time out (a 3.1 inning start against the Mets on July 4th) and had not thrown more than 65 pitches this year (which he had done twice in relief).

Cortes the Conquerer

Nestor Cortes Jr.sports a conquistador mustache these days, which gives his normal nice-guy appearance a more menacing look on the mound. As we wrote when Cortes conquered the A’s on June 19th, ‘when Hernan Cortes conquered the Astecs, it is written “An unnerving series of coincidences led Montezuma to believe that perhaps Cortés was the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, who had promised to return one day to reclaim his kingdom. Quetzalcoatl, “the feathered serpent,” stood for the solar light, the morning star. He symbolized knowledge, arts, and religion.”’

Cortes Is Actually from Cuba

Nestor Cortes Jr. is not from Quetzalcoatl but was born in Cuba. His father won the visa lottery when he was 7 months old, and the family relocated to the United States; specifically Hialeah, Florida.

Yanks Have Always Liked Cortes

The Yankees originally drafted Cortes in the 36th round of the 2013 June draft.

The Yankees lost him to Baltimore in the Rule 5 draft in 2017, and he pitched a little for the Orioles in 2018, but Baltimore returned him to the Yanks later that year. After a mostly successful stint with NY in 2019 (although when he didn’t pitch well he got bombed and finished with a 5-1 5.67 record), the Yanks traded Cortes to Seattle, where he did not pitch well and was released — the Yankees signing him this winter to a minor league deal.

Boone on Cortes’ Mustache

When asked about Cortes’s mustache after the game, manager Aaron Boone said, “I think it fits him well. It’s part of what makes him unique and special. When we called him back up and he had the mustache I made fun of him a little bit for it, but I think it’s perfect.”

2. Yanks Get Runs on Small-Ball Attack

The Yanks scored 4 runs without hitting a homerun. In the top of the 4th, Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out single off Houston starter Jake Odorizzi, Gio Urshela hit a 2-out double, and Brett Gardner doubled them both home for a 2-0 Yankee lead.

In the 7th, Brett Gardner worked a 1-out walk off reliever Bobby Abreu, Tyler Wade doubled, and DJ LeMahieu doubled them both home for a 4-0 NY lead.

3. Green and Loaisiga Finish It

After Lucas Luetge got the final out of the 5th, he pitched a shutout 6th.

Chad Green came in for the 7th and pitched shutout ball. Yankee Twitter were wondering — if Green is in for the 7th — does that mean Jonathan Loasiga for the 8th and Aroldis Chapman for the 9th with this precarious 4-0 lead in such an important game? Chapman who has had such trouble the last month.

But Boone threw a curveball of his own by bringing Green out for the 8th, and then had Loasiga close it in the 9th. Both Green and Loasiga were lights out — Loasiga ending the game with a strikeout on a 100-mph pitch.


The Yanks banged out 12 hits.

  • Aaron Judge went 2-5 and is at .286 (.377 OBP)
  • Gleyber Torres went 2-4 and is at .240 (.326 OBP)
  • Gio Urshela went 2-4 and is at .272 (.311 OBP)
  • DJ LeMahieu went 2-5 and is at .272 (.347 OBP)

The Boxscore




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