Yankees’ Nestor Cortes continues to have issues past fifth inning

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes reacts as Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Frazier runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

BRONX — Nestor Cortes looked like he was going to provide the Yankees with another strong outing that exceeded the fifth inning on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. And then things fell apart. 

The lefty gave up four runs on five hits — three of which came in the seventh when Baltimore Orioles second baseman Adam Frazier hit a three-run homer — in what turned into a 9-6 loss for the Bombers. It was another unfortunate turn for Corters during his outings this year, especially on Wednesday when he had been so dominant in the innings leading up to the seventh. 

But that has been the time when Cortes has seemed to struggle the most. In the sixth and seventh innings this year Cotes has allowed 13 earned runs on 13 hits and given up four home runs, according to Katie Sharp. 

And when going through the order for the third time, Sharp tweeted, Cortes had a 1.504 OPS going into the second game of a three-game series with the Orioles. 

“I mean, obviously this is a tough one, and a tough loss and everything,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “One of the things from it is another strong outing against a good team for Nester. You know it goes bad there a little bit at the end, but take a step back and look at how he threw the ball, and especially coming off his last one. Encouraging things.”

Cortes had only thrown 11 pitches in an inning twice before he got to the seventh and was only at 77 pitches. Before the disastrous seventh the Orioles had only tacked three hits off of him, but after that he walked Anthony Santander and gave up a base hit to Austin Hays.

Frazier then sent one off the right field foul pole for the three-run shot. 

“It happened quick,” Cortes said about the seventh. “But I don’t think it reflects the way I threw. I felt great. Still felt with power in the seventh. Felt like I made a lot of competitive pitches in the seventh. It wasn’t like Toronto where (I threw) four straight balls.”

Boone and Cortes both indicated after the game that the plan had always been to take Cortes out after he faced Frazier, the exit just had a different feel because of the circumstances. 

Still, Cortes hasn’t matched the success he had last year when he became an ace for the Yankees during a breakout year. This season more than ever New York needed the starter to replicate that. 

Cortes didn’t record a decision on Wednesday and at 4-2 in 10 starts he still has a winning record, but with so many pitchers sidelined the lefty’s success was very much needed this year. After the 9-6 loss, Cortes’ ERA ballooned to 5.30 and he has a WHIP of 1.270. 

The Yankees’ pitcher agreed he was encouraged by the way his performances were trending, but acknowledged feeling a bit of the pressure to recreate his success from last season.

“I have high expectations of myself. I always want to repeat what I did last year,” Cortes said. “Last year was an incredible year but it doesn’t matter anymore. Every time I’m out there going back to (2021), just trying to give my team a competitive outing for us to score and for us to win. So that’s basically the goal this season to0.

“Just go out there and give as many of these as I can and not try and allow as many runs, so hopefully we can get that straightened out.”

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