Monday, June 27, 2022

Stellar Nestor Cortes Too Much for Rays as Yankees Roll, 7-2

scheduled tribe. Petersburg – Aaron is not buying Judge Nestor Cortes’ comments. After the left-hander went out and tackled another Gems as the Yankees beat the Rays 7-2 at Tropicana Field on Thursday night, Cortés said he didn’t believe he was one of the best pitchers in the big leagues right now. Huh.

The judge laughed.

“I disagree of course. But he can think whatever he wants. He’ll keep doing what he’s doing. He can think whatever he wants and is just going out there and performing every five days, “The Yankees slugger said of Cortés. “It’s special. It’s fun to watch. Like I said on the field, he competes. He’s not afraid of anyone in the lineup and it’s fun to play the ball when you do.”

And it’s fun right now for the Yankees (32-13), who, despite going through a rough patch with injuries, maintained the best record in baseball. He extended his opening season lead in the American League East to 5.5 games over the Rays (26–18).

How bad was Nestor’s Thursday night? It was difficult to see him even from the other dugout. Rays manager Kevin Cash agrees with the judge.

“Very, very hard,” Cash said. “He came in as one of the better pitchers in baseball by far and we definitely saw why. We faced him last year and he was good. It looks like he’s upped his game here a bit lately. High.

Cortés scored his fourth win of the season and charged one run for four hits in eight innings. He hit five and left one. He held the Rays to no score in eight innings and came back in ninth place when he conceded a leadoff single to Vander Franco. Vandy Peralta let go of that run score and allowed another before the game was called off.

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This was the second time in his career that Cortés played eight innings, it was the second time he had scored eight runs in his last three starts and allowed an earned run or less. His 1.70 ERA through nine starts is the lowest among Yankees pitchers since Hideki Irabi in 1998. He has allowed three runs or less in 18 consecutive starts, two fewer than Russ Ford’s 20 game streak in 1910–11.

It’s impressive enough that Cortés is being talked about as a shoo-in to represent the Yankees in the All-Star Game.

“I still have a lot to prove,” Cortes said. “I think it’s still early. You know, it’s a quarter of the season and I want to prove that I can expect 30 starts and 150-plus innings.

“So I just want to put my head down and keep going.”

He also describes the Yankees on Thursday nights.

He took another hit to the roster, with Aaron Hicks scratching his right hamstring less than half an hour before the first pitch with a tightness in his right hamstring. Matt Carpenter, signed on May 19 after pulling out of his minor league contract with the Rangers, was moved to the lineup just three hours after landing in Tampa.

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With Hicks Down and DJ Lemahieu still in pain in the left wrist and unavailable, the Yankees played with the only catcher available on the bench, Kyle Higashioka.

Nevertheless, they managed to roll in their closest competition in the American League East, in which Carpenter jumped in and took a role.

The Yankees received no hits in five innings by Ryan Yarbrough, who first walked off Anthony Rizzo and then retired 14 straight before settling in sixth. Matt Carpenter, who had arrived at the Yankees clubhouse a few hours earlier, was hit by a pitch, the first base runner, and Marvin Gonzalez’s line drive to center field was the Bombers’ first hit of the night.

Aaron Judge grounded mid-way at one-98 mph with the bat to bring in the Yankees’ second run. The slugger, playing center ground after Hicks was scratched late, stole second. Miguel Andujar singles it off to drive another and runs into the play on Ray’s throwing error for a second.

Isaiah Kenner-Falefa ran in seventh place and Ralph Garza, Jr. scored on the wild pitch. Judge drove into the Yankees’ fifth run on a sacrificial fly with bases loaded in the ninth. Anthony Rizzo followed a sharp line drive double that took the team’s final two runs.

“We’ve got a flexible team of people,” said the judge. “You can scratch someone five minutes before a game and people are about to get ready, you know? We’ve got a team that’s all working and working together.”

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