Bronx, NY—-The Bronx Bombers couldn’t ask for anything better from their crafty left-hander pitcher.
Nestor Cortes Jr. silenced and mowed down a very potent lineup for 4 ¹/₃ scoreless innings.
The Yankees’ bullpen handled the rest, continue to dominate the rest of the innings to snap a two-game slide with a 4-0 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night in The Bronx in front of a crowd of 25,068.
Cortes, who had not pitched in a game in 10 days (his Grapefruit League finale came on April 2), showed no signs of rust. He retired 11 batters in a row after giving up a leadoff double, and limited the Blue Jays to just three hits and no walks while ringing up five K’s.
Aaron Hicks showed glimpses early in the Yankee victory that he may back to near 100 percent.
Hicks missed the majority of 2021 due to a torn tendon in his left wrist. He had a .194 batting average and struck out 30 times in 32 games before landing on the dreaded IL in May.
“Felt really good, especially to do it in the first at-bat,” Hicks said. “I hit well, but I didn’t think it was going to go out. I thought maybe I might be able to get it off the wall or at least have a sacrifice fly.”
His 93rd career big-league home run came shortly after he ended the top of the second with a leaping catch that robbed Matt Chapman of a extra base hit. Hicks had moved into left-center as the Yanks shifted into a four-man outfield for the at-bat.
“He about gave me a heart attack there,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The four-man worked well there because we were well-positioned, but I think he misread it, and turned it into a good catch.”
Gleyber Torres, who doubled and was 2-for-4 for the night, bumped his average from .200 to .286. He was the fourth outfielder for the second-inning Chapman at-bat, shifting from second base to shallow left field.
Cortes threw 72 pitches on the night, a number that will increase as the season goes along. He had great command of his pitches, retiring 11 in a row after George Springer’s lead off double in the first.
“He’s attacking the zone constantly, so you’re always ready for contact,” Hicks said of Cortes. “It makes playing defense a lot easier because you’re always prepared.”
The Yankees hit Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi hard their first few at-bats, Hicks smoked a fastball for a two-run home run that landed on the short porch in right field. The 2-0 lead marked the first time this season that the Bombers scored first.
“It felt really good, especially to do it in my first at-bat, being the first ones to score,” Hicks said.
The Bronx Bombers added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to an error by Blue Jays catcher Tyler Heineman. LeMahieu was on second base and Gleyber Torres on first when Heineman tried to pick off Torres. But the throw sailed past Guerrero, allowing LeMahieu to score to go up 3-0.
The bullpen did the rest, now having given up just three earned runs over 27 ²/₃ innings to begin the season.
Gerrit Cole will take the mound to face slugging Blue Jays on Wednesday.