Nestor Cortes Spins 1-Hit Shutout Into 8th. NY 8 Baltimore 0

Nestor Cortes Jr spinning and pirouetting before throwing a strike for another strikeout during his 1-hit shutout performance.

Nestor Cortes Jr. was spinning and winning, throwing in another Luis Tiant stutterstep and pirouette, and firing strikes to home, whiffing 12, allowing only 1 hit, and pitching a shutout into the 8th to carry NY to the 8-0 victory.

A pitching masterpiece and a standing ovation as he left the field on a Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

But everyone was sadly happy — Aaron Judge, in pursuit of #62 — was again being mostly pitched around by Baltimore’s pitching staff — perhaps by accident and fear. Judge was hit by a pitch his first time up, and walked twice, struck out twice — 0-2 on the day. His batting average slipped to .313, now 2 points behind Luis Arraez for the AL lead. Xander Bogaerts is in 3rd at .305.

“I think it’s a hard situation to be in as a pitcher,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards. “Where you’re striking that balance between ‘I want to attack him but its the best hitter in the world’.”

The game was supposed to be rained out, as heavy rains were predicted from the remnants of Hurricane Ian — but they never came. Yankee Management did well to not cancel the game early in the morning.

NY improves to 97-60 — 5 games left for Judge to hit #62 — if Sunday’s game doesn’t get cancelled due to rain expected. Baltimore was eliminated from the playoffs when Seattle won the night before; the Orioles are 81-77.

1. Cortes the Ace

Nestor was masterful from the start — striking out the side in the top of the 1st, and striking out 2 more in a 1-2-3 second inning. And he just motored on from there — a special performance overshadowed on this afternoon by Judge’s pursuit of #62, but a great secondary story that developed during the day.

His four-seam fastball was rarely faster than 91 MPH — and sometimes he threw it right down the middle! But his assortment of pitches, arm angles, and deliveries had Baltimore’s lineup flustered and confused all afternoon.

“I kind of locked eyes into Rizzo when I was doing that,” said Cortes of his Tiant-esq pirouette. “It’s something that, like I said before — I do it on the spot. I don’t know what I’m doing until it happens, and got the strikeout.”

He threw 71-MPH sliders, 88-MPH cutters, 89-MPH sinkers, 82-MPH changeups, and then more 90 to 92-MPH fastballs right down the middle strike 3.

2. Judge Walks; Giancarlo Homers

But all eyes and attention kept riveting back to Judge.

Austin Voth started for Baltimore and he threw two balls then hit Aaron Judge with a pitch leading off the bottom of the 1st. It wasn’t intentional — he was either trying to pitch inside away from the strike zone or was nervous. The baserunner created by Judge’s walk immediately came around to score: Anthony Rizzo hit into a fielder’s choice, and scored on a Gleyber Torres double. NY 1 Baltimore 0.

Josh Donaldson hit a sac fly to plate another run and Giancarlo Stanton DEMOLISHED a 447-foot shot to left for a 3-0 NY lead.

3. Higgy Homer

Kyle Higashioka has been red hot with the bat lately, and he ripped a homer to left leading off the 4th for a 4-0 NY lead.

4. “ASS HOLE…”

Spenser Watkins came in to pitch the 7th with Judge leading off. At that point Judge was 0-1 with a walk and hit by pitch on the grey day.

Watkins threw 3 straight balls, then a pitch in the zone that Judge fouled back — just missed. Then ball four low and not even close, walking Judge. Yankee Stadium fans could be heard LOUDLY on the radio chanting “ASS HOLE… ASS HOLE … ASS HOLE” to Spenser Watkins.

“That particular word is usually reserved for people who show up in the bleachers wearing Boston Red Sox uniforms” said Suzyn Waldman on the radio.

The Yankee lineup then told Watkins to go F himself.

Anthony Rizzo followed with an infield single and Gleyber Torres singled home Judge — NY 5 Baltimore 0. Josh Donaldson singled home Rizzo — NY 6 Baltimore 0 still nobody out.

Harrison Bader followed with a 2-out double for 2 RBI’s — NY 8 Baltimore 0.

The Yankee rally meant Judge would get another at bat — in the 8th — and another try at Watkins. Again Watkins threw 3 straight balls — the count went 3-0. Then Watkins threw strikes — Judge fouled 2 off, then struck out swinging on a 90-MPH change up, just low.

“There’s no bigger stage, and no tougher place to do it,” said Giancarlo Stanton about Judge’s pursuit. “He’s at the top of the top, and he’s made it look easy. Especially when the last thing on the pitcher’s mind is to give up a homer, and he’s still — whenever he’s pitched to — he’s making the most of it.”

5. Barnes? Finishes

The Yankees signed journeyman Jacob Barnes on August 30th and had him pitch at AAA Scranton. He was put on the roster before the game and he relieved Cortes in the 8th, and also pitched the 9th. Barnes is 32 and has bounced around the majors for years, most recently pitching with Detroit this year. He came up with Milwaukee, and has also pitched for Kansas City, the Angels, the Mets, and Toronto.

Pitchers like Barnes get chances because teams like NY do not want to disrupt eligibility time numbers or start the major-league clock of their core minor league pitching prospects.

Barnes allowed 2 hits in the 9th but got the final outs for the old ballgame.

The Boxscore


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