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  • Benjamin Gerstel

"Nasty Nestor" deals career high 12 K's, but the Yankees blow game late

After losing a tough game in extras to begin the series, New York was able to bounce back behind a prime performance from their offense last night. They scored 5 runs and were able to tie the series at one. Thankfully today, the Yankees had fan-favorite “Nasty Nestor” on the mound, who has an innate ability to mess up hitters' timing. Baltimore started Bruce Zimmerman, their local product, as they looked to take control over this 1-1 series. Ryan McKenna started off the day with an impressive catch in deep left field. While tumbling down, he was able to snag the ball in his glove and rob Aaron Hicks of a potential base hit. Baltimore walked Judge, but they got out of the first inning without letting a hit.

Cortes allowed a single to right field from Ryan Mountcastle, and then he walked Trey Mancini as well. He struggled to find his groove early on, but finally clicked when he struck out Anthony Santander for the second strikeout of the inning. McKenna then grounded out to third, to put Baltimore away in the first. It was a strong bounce back, considering the pressure involved with runners in scoring position. The former-Oriole proceeded to strike out the side in the next inning, and asserted his dominance with five strikeouts on the day. Both teams were held to one hit each through two innings. In the third inning, Cortes got his revenge on Mountcastle, and struck him out for Cortes’s sixth K of the day already. Mancini became Cortes’s seventh victim in the next at-bat, which made for an extraordinary performance from Nasty Nestor. There’s a reason Yankee fans call him that, and Baltimore found out the hard way today. All New York needed to do was provide some run support for their 27-year old pitcher.

D.J. LeMahieu ignited this effort, with a single in-between Baltimore’s first and second baseman. Gleyber Torress then sacrifice bunted, and LeMahieu was able to advance to second. Another hit finally got the Yankees a runner in scoring position, with LeMahieu on third, and Higashioka on first. With one out and an 0-2 count, Kiner Falefa looked at a ball at his feet. Falefa then fouled off a ball, to stay alive in the batter’s box. Sadly, he grounded out to a 5-4-3 double play. LeMahieu was the Yankees’ first runner in scoring position left stranded today, but they had the top of the order up next. In the bottom of the fourth frame, Cortes continued dealing, touching each corner of the zone. He struck out Santander for the second time today, and then he got McKenna out looking. Finally, Cortes finished striking out the side, as he got Chirinos looking as well.

It was Cortes’s 10th punch-out of the day, and just one shy of his career-high, which is 11. Funny enough, before this game, two out of three of Cortes’s highest career strikeout totals have been against Baltimore. On 9/15/2021, Cortes had 11 strikeouts against them and he had 7 K’s on 9/3/2021. This performance is just another dominant performance from Nasty Nestor. Cortes, at one point, had six strikeouts in a row and he was able to tie his career high (11) in the fifth. Baltimore made contact, but Josh Donaldson made a highlight-worthy play of his own, when he snagged a ball as he was sliding. While turning, the Yankees 3B then threw a rocket to first, to get the out for New York. For the final out of the fifth, Cortes notched his career high 12th strikeout, in an utterly astounding start. He is just the second Yankee since 2008 to have 12 strikeouts in five innings. Both offenses continued to struggle, even without Cortes pitching. Through eight innings, Baltimore and New York have put up a goose egg in the run column, which shows just how nonexistent both lineups were. It wasn’t until the bottom of the eighth, with bases loaded, that Baltimore finally broke free.

With Loaisiga on the mound, Rougned Odor stepped up to the plate with two outs. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Odor ripped a base hit that sent both Mountcastle and Mancini home. Odor was pinch-hitting, and came up huge for Baltimore late in the game. They couldn’t hit anything earlier today, but that was the final pitch that was thrown by Loaisiga. Baltimore went up 2-0, with a man on first and second still. Gutierrez then knocked in two more runs, making it a 4-0 lead. As if that wasn’t enough already, Jorge Mateo continued to pile it on, and he brought Gutierrez home for good measure. After not being able to touch Cortes all game, Baltimore’s offense came alive in the eighth inning. They scored 5 runs, and the Yankees were not able to recover from that.

It’s certainly a disappointing performance from the offense, who could not get Cortes any help today. Cortes could’ve struck out 15 of the 15 batters he faced (instead of 12) and the Yankees still wouldn’t have had anywhere near enough to win. A career-high performance will certainly be overshadowed by a blown lead late. Baltimore ended up winning the game 5-0, to clinch a 2-1 series win. New York will head into Detroit tomorrow, for a 6:40 bout against the Tigers.

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