Nestor Cortes Jr. pitched shutout ball into the 6th, out-dueling Tampa ace Shane McClanahan, who only allowed 3 hits — but one was a solo homer by Aaron Judge to start the scoring, and the other was a 3-run bomb by Kyle Higashioka to give NY enough runs to win. The game was capped by gutsy relief pitching by Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, and Clay Holmes for the Mariano Rivera-like save.
On a June Wednesday night in the Bronx.
The Yanks only got 3 hits all evening, and 4 runs. They left nobody on base — nobody. A rare baseball event.
As Aaron Boone said afterwards, “baseball is not a hitting contest, it’s a scoring contest.”
With the win NY improves to 46-16 — a .742 winning percentage — 30 games over .500 and now 9 games over 2nd place Toronto and 11 over the Tampa Devil Rays, who fall to 35-27.
1. Cortes Out-Duels McClanahan
Nestor Cortes and Shane McClanahan came in with two of the best pitching records in baseball. Cortes was 5-2 1.96, McClanahan 7-2 1.87 — the leading contender for Cy Young at this instant in time.
Cortes was coming off a rare poor outing, but in this one was his old self — cruising through 5 shutout innings before running into trouble in the 6th, when he allowed two doubles and a walk and was lifted with 1 out. By that time he had a 4-1 lead.
Cortes felt he had a good fastball on the evening: “Really good. I had a good feel for it from the bullpen. I thought from the start I had good late life, and I was throwing pretty hard.” About the 6th, Cortes felt he “got a little scattered. I felt like my body was pretty good. I felt I could continue. But I got a little scattered. A couple of them got away from me.”
The Yankees only got 3 hits on the evening — all against McClanahan, who went 6 innings, allowing only 1 earned run, struck out 7, but lost to go 7-3 1.84.
Cortes pitched 5.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 run, had 4 K’s, on 91 pitches, and won to go 6-2 1.94.
2. Judge Homer
The first hit of the game — and run — was courtesy Aaron Judge in the bottom of the 1st with 1 out — an opposite field homer to right that just made it over the fence. The Would_It_Dong twitter account calculated it would have only been a home run at Yankee Stadium. And that’s where they were playing.
Order in the court 👨⚖️ pic.twitter.com/kM3dy5RHQz
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 15, 2022
3. Higgy 3-Run Blast
Josh Donaldson led off the bottom of the 5th with a line drive to deep right-center that centerfielder Brett Phillips got to but dropped — Donaldson ending up on 2nd. McClanahan got the next two outs but intentionally walked Isiah Kiner-Falefa to get to Kyle Higashioka. And Higgy ripped a 97-MPH four seam fastball for a 389-foot 3-run homer to left and it was 4-1 Yanks.
Bright Lights, Hig City. pic.twitter.com/XRtCqX4Kae
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 16, 2022
4. Wandy Waves His Magic Wand
Wandy Peralta came in to relieve Cortes in the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, and NY up 4-1 — and got 2 straight outs to get out of the inning. Wandy then pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning.
5. Luetge Gets Out of 8th
Ji-Min Choi was sent up to pinch hit — and Aaron Boone called for Lucas Luetge. Boone had already been out to talk to Castro and the umpires called time to discuss the timing of all events, and if Luetge could actually be brought in or if Castro still had to pitch. This took 15 minutes and all of Yankee Twitter was incredulous and booing via their keyboards.
Finally Luetge was allowed to pitch and Choi hit a single to center to plate a run and it was 4-2. Rene Pinto, up next, hit a bloop to center that fell in for a hit and a 4-3 game.
Luetge finally got centerfielder Brett Phillips to hit a heart-attack fly to left for the final out — it was an ordinary fly but with a 4-3 game and 2 runners on it caused some agita.
6. Holmes a Rivera-Like Save
Clay Holmes pitched the 9th with the 4-3 lead and allowed a leadoff runner when a grounder between 1st and 2nd was bobbled by Anthony Rizzo. But Holmes bore down and got the next 3 outs — a groundout (near double play), strikeout, groundout — for the old ballgame.