The New York Yankees earned their 45th victory of the season last night, 4-0 against the tough Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park. For the Bombers, stringing together a few wins is a must, as is showing they can get the job done against top teams.
One of the main drivers of the victory on Friday night was Yankeesâ€™ starting pitcher Nestor Cortes. Summoned to the biggest of stages due to recent injuries to the staff, most notably Mike Kingâ€™s, Cortes has been a breath of fresh air for the rotation, and yesterday, he kept the Astros off the scoreboard for 4 2/3 frames.
â€œHe was huge for us tonight, just like heâ€™s seemed to be every time he pitches for us,â€ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said to MLB.com.
He gave the Yankees more than what was asked from him
Boone had stated he was looking to get three or four quality innings from Cortes, but the southpaw ended up covering 4 2/3 innings on 74 pitches. He wasnâ€™t particularly overpowering, but he used his whole arsenal of fastball, curveballs and sliders, not to mention changes in his delivery, to keep them off balance all night long.
Cortesâ€™ ERA is now 1.05.
â€œI think my stuff has gotten a little better. My command has gotten a lot better too,â€ Cortes said. â€œI think thatâ€™s whatâ€™s working for me most. A lot of people think Iâ€™m a crafty lefty, which I am to a certain point, but I think my pitches have gotten a little crisper.â€
â€œNo moment is too big for him,â€ Gardner added. â€œHeâ€™s a guy thatâ€™s very even-keeled, works hard and always stays ready.â€
One canâ€™t help but think Cortes may have a spot in the Yankeesâ€™ rotation for as long as he continues to pitch like this. After all the injuries, and the ineffectiveness of some guys, having these kinds of performances out of nowhere is what drives teams to the next level.