Bronx, NY: The table was set for the Yankees in the first inning Friday night in the Bronx with a four run first inning and three hits off Twins starter Charlie Barnes. From there the Yankees never looked back and Nestor Cortes threw seven strong innings.
The Yankees won a season high eighth straight with their 10-2 win over the Twins and the momentum continues. Luke Voit went 4-for-5, hit a home run and drove in four runs. Aaron Judge also hit an opposite field two-run home run moving the Yankees to a season high 19 games over the .500 mark.
It has been working on all cylinders for manager Aaron Boone and his team. Up and down the lineup, and every game there continues to be another one or two contributors that have put the Yankees in a position as the leading AL wild card and four games off from division leading Tampa Bay.
Though the Yankees did not hit the ball hard in that first inning, it definitely set the tone and put Cortes in position to win his fourth game in the last five starts.
“Cortes is a better pitcher with better command and good stuff,” Boone said about the Left-hander who was placed in the rotation when the Yankees were dealing with the void of Gerrit Cole and Jordan Mintgomery on the injured list.
“When he got called up he was giving us length,” Boone said. “He’s been great every step of the way. Hard to imagine where we would be without him. He’s been huge in different roles. He’s able to compete.”
The only trouble that Cortes had was in the sixth inning. He managed to use a good fastball and breaking ball. Cortes matched a career high with seven strikeouts and is locked in the rotation with no imminent return of Luis Severino, Corey Kluber, or Domingo German.
Cortes is 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA in five starts. The Yankees are 30-11 in their last 41 games, four games off the pace from the division leading Tampa Bay Rays, and six weeks ago were 10 games back from the then division leading Boston Red Sox.
“Just be able to throw strikes and get quick outs,” Cortes said about his success. First started out trying to get deeper into games, now going the seventh inning it’s been nice.”
He attributed his success to throwing the timing off hitters by pounding the strike zone and making pitches. Cortes said the curve has developed a drop and it was something he learned from the pitching staff in spring training.
“I wanted something bigger,” Cortes said about the curve. “The staff of pitchers helped me out to create the pitches. The grip is involved and the action involved in it. “
Regardless, Cortes has settled into his new role and it has paid dividends for the Yankees during this streak. Since his season debut on May 30, Cortes has pitched to a 2.55 ERA which sits as the second lowest in the AL trailing Toronto’s Robbie Ray.
When asked about starting as opposed to coming out of the pen, Cortes said “It’s something I’m used to in the minor leagues. Obviously in the big leagues it gets to put your team in good position. Take what I can get to put the team in position to win.”
And, Cortes has put the Yankees in that position to win which has also made an impression with their lineup as every game continues to gain more confidence and has that momentum.
“He attacked their (Twins) lineup,” said Judge.”When he got the lead attacked the strike zone, their timing tonight, we saw that tonight. That gives you a chance to win. Every single pitch was special. He works his magic on the mound.”
The Yankees have used 57 players this season and Cortes is one of 28 pitchers. Then again, winning ball games makes things right and Saturday afternoon Cole will make his second start since coming off the COVID-19 injured list.
And Cortes has gone beyond and been instrumental during this Yankees winning streak.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter @Ring786 Fcebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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