Cortes & Yankee Pen Conquer ‘Stros. NY 3 Houston 1

Nestor Cortes is back — skipping his last rehab start to pitch the important Saturday afternoon game at Yankee Stadium against the Houston Astros — and he was Dominant; 4 strong innings, striking out 4 of the first 5 batters he faced.

Cortes left after reaching NY’s pre-established pitch limit of 60 pitches, handing off to the Yankee bullpen which came in and finished the job — Ian Hamilton, Tommy Kahnle, Michael King, and Clay Holmes — 5 shutout innings. Overall, they limited the tough Houston lineup to 2 hits.

And the Yankee offense got just enough off old nemesis Justin Verlander — whom Houston just acquired at the trade deadline from the Mets — to beat him. Harrison Bader (double) and Anthony Volpe (sac fly) hooked up for a run off Verlander in the 2nd, Jake Bauers hit the eventual game winning HR in the 5th, and Gleyber Torres hit an insurance HR in the 8th.

Sweet and simple. And lots of pitching. On a beautiful, 85-degree Saturday afternoon in the Bronx.

“Nestor is one of the really good pitchers,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards. “He’s proven that since he went into the rotation in early/middle part of ’21. For different reasons, the hamstring that slowed him at the start of Spring, and not being totally built up there, and then having a couple of blips, and having to go down for a couple of weeks with the shoulder — in the midst of all that early in the season he was showing he’s the old guy too — so it’s a huge lift; it’s why we’ve been looking forward to getting him back because we know what he’s capable of, and I think you got a glimpse of that today.”

NY improves to 58-53 and pulls out of last place — they are now .5 ahead of Boston and

1. Cortes Is Back

It was Nestor’s first game since May 30th. When he left, he was having trouble dominating with his fastball, and getting hit for HR’s in the 5th or 6th innings of games.

In this game his fastball was dominant. He looked like the Cortes of last year, who was an ace that went 12-4 2.44 and made the All Star team.

Afterwards he said he felt strong.

“We’ll see how I react tomorrow, but right now I feel good.” said Cortes afterwards.
“I felt like I was a lot stronger than I was 3 months ago, even to start the season. The work we’ve been putting in trying to get my arm in the same motion and feeling that I was in last year really helped.”

Cortes walked Jose Altuve to start the game but then struck out the side in the 1st, and the first batter of the 2nd for 4 in a row.

His one mistake came to Altuve again — a solo homer to left in the 3rd to tie the game 1-1. It was the only hit Cortes allowed. He struck out the side in the 4th and left after 64 pitches.

Cortes’s line: 4 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 8 K’s, 1 walk. He doesn’t get the win of course but lowers his ERA; his current slash line: 5-2 4.97.

2. Yanks Hit Verlander Hard Early

The Yanks were getting to Verlander early but had little to show for it.

Verlander walked 2 in the 1st inning, and in the 2nd, Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off with a single, and next batter Harrison Bader ripped a double off the wall in left for 2nd and 3rd nobody out.

Anthony Volpe got a big sac fly for a 1-0 Yankee lead.

But Verlander struck out Ben Rortvedt with runner on 3rd, 1 out and Jake Bauers lined out to right so the Yanks failed to get another run across in the 2nd.

3. Giancarlo Runs Like Grand Ma Ma

In the 3rd, Giancarlo Stanton hit a 2-out, standup double. DJ LeMahieu got a Clutch single to center that should have scored Giancarlo easily — but Stanton ran around 3rd like a grandma and was out easily at the plate. Clearly Stanton is running gingerly so as not to restrain his hamstring.

It was pointed out that Stanton was running like Tony LaRussa.

4. Bauers HR the Game Winner

Lefty Jake Bauers ripped a 410-foot shot to the upper deck in right off Verlander in the bottom of the 5th to give NY a 2-1 lead — the eventual game winner.

Verlander settled in after that and ended up pitching 7 innings, weathering 7 hits, 2 walks, and some hard-hit outs, for only 2 runs allowed (also thanks to Giancarlo’s running).

5. Hamilton Terrific

Ian Hamilton pitched the 5th, and allowed a walk, strike out, strike out — the runner eliminated when he tried to steal 2nd but Ben Rortvedt threw him out.

Ian Hamilton pitched the 6th, and had a strike out, strike out, walk — so John Sterling on the radio was goading the runner — Jeremy Pena — to try and steal 2nd.

But Hamilton got Kyle Tucker to ground out to end the inning. By that time Bauers HR had given NY a 2-1 lead, and Hamilton got the win to go 2-1 1.67 on the season.

6. Kahnle 1-2-3

Tightpants Tommy Kahnle pitched the 7th and held the 2-1 Yankee lead — allowing a leadoff walk, but getting a double play, and strikeout of Alex Bregman.

7. King Terrific

Michael King pitched the 8th and held the 2-1 Yankee lead — allowing a 1-out single to Yandy Diaz but striking out Martin Maldonado and Jose Altuve to end the inning. HUGE.

8. Gleyber HUGE Insurance HR

And then up stepped Gleyber Torres to lead off the bottom of the 8th against Kendall Graveman, the Yanks up 2-1 and needing an insurance run or two.

And Gleyber delivered with a 380-foot homer to opposite field right center for a 3-1 Yankee lead. HUGE.

9. Holmes the 1-2-3 Save

Clay Holmes was in for the 9th with a now 2-run lead and pitched a 1-2-3 inning — strikeout, fly out, ground out for the old ballgame.

The Boxscore


1 Comment

  1. Beautiful picture of Cortes.
    Yankees need him if they have any hope of making playoffs this year.
    Great to see him back. Hopefully he keeps pitching well.

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