Nestor Cortes’ 12 K’s to force Yankees to rethink playoff lineup

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NEW YORK — Aaron Judge will have one more opportunity to break Roger Maris’ record in front of his home crowd in this upcoming game. But he failed in front of a sell-out crowd and another Yankee took charge of the game. Nestor Cortes’ 12 strikeouts against Baltimore reminded many of his immaculate inning against the Orioles in April this year.

Judge stayed at 61 home runs on Saturday, when the Orioles were blown out 8-0 by the Yankees at Yankee Stadium to the dismay of fans. The Yankees had a big win to level the series thanks to Nestor Cortes, the star of the game.

In the chilly afternoon that the rain had delayed, Judge went 0-for-2 at the plate, walking twice but striking out both times. On Wednesday in Toronto, he tied Roger Maris’s record for most home runs in a single season for the franchise.

If Judge is unable to hit home run No. 62 on Sunday, he will have four more opportunities to do so in Texas beginning on Monday.

The Yankees now have a record of 97-60 after winning the American League East division title a week ago. On Friday night, Baltimore was knocked out of the running for the playoffs.

On Saturday, the Yankees had a total of 14 hits.

It took place at a time when Nestor Cortes was further establishing himself as the best pitcher for the Yankees. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up only one hit. His 2.44 earned run average in 28 starts puts him in fourth place in the American League among pitchers with lower strikeout totals. He tied his career high with 12 strikeouts. Cortes only threw for 158 1/3 innings, falling short of the 162 required to be eligible for the ERA title. He was 12-4.

Nestor Cortes threw 93 pitches, which strengthens his case to start Game 1 of the American League Division Series for the Yankees.

In the first, the Yankees got a 3-0 lead. Austin Voth, the Orioles’ starting pitcher, hit Judge with two outs in the first inning. Anthony Rizzo moved following a fielder’s attempt to put another. But he returned after Gleyber Torres made a double. When the ball was thrown home, Torres moved to third base. The next time up, Josh Donaldson hit a high fly ball to the wall in the right field. It went far enough to score Torres.

Then Giancarlo Stanton, who had been in a massive slump, brought the team back within striking distance with a home run to left field that traveled 447 feet. Since the walk-off grand slam he hit on September 20, this was his first home run since then.

The Yankees took a commanding 4-0 lead after the second inning thanks to a solo home run by Kyle Higashioka, which was his ninth home run of the season. Nestor Cortes held the Orioles on the other end.

The game was decided by a four-run seventh. Judge steered to load the bases while fans began to chant at reliever Spenser Watkins. It looks like they were saying “a-hole” at the pitcher. Watkins then walked Rizzo and let Torres hit a single to load the bases.

Rizzo scored when Josh Donaldson hit a single to left field. Since Ryan McKenna’s throw was so far away from the plate, Donaldson went to second base. But the catcher, Robinson Chirinos, tried and failed to throw out Donaldson while he was running, which made it easy for Torres to score from third. Harrison Bader’s double brought in Donaldson with one out. But none was able to match Nestor Cortes’ heroics.

The second inning saw Oswald Peraza falling for a rookie mistake. As Torres hit a fly ball to the center field, Peraza left third base too soon. After Peraza crossed home plate, the Orioles threw to third base and the umpires called him out.

The Yankees added Jacob Barnes to their 40-man roster on Saturday. He pitched the last 1 2/3 innings and struck out two batters complementing Nestor Cortes.

Do you think the Yankees should rethink on their play off lineup and have Nestor Cortes in the first game?

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