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Yankees 8, Orioles 0: Nestor dominates, hitters punish O’s

No home run for Judge, but the other hitters made the pitchers pay.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees lefty Nestor Cortes made his final start of the regular season today, and it was one to remember. He overwhelmed Baltimore, allowing only a single hit and striking out 12 batters. (See you in the playoffs, Nestor.) Aaron Judge might have missed his chance at No. 62 while getting pitched around once more, but the other batters around him had a banner day. It was all enough to fell the newly-eliminated O’s, 8-0, in a win that was never in doubt.

Judge trotted out for his first at bat with huge cheers, but Baltimore’s Austin Voth (lightly) clipped him on the elbow with a pitch. Anthony Rizzo followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice. The Yankees somewhat puzzlingly challenged the call that Judge was out at second — it was a close play, but far too close to challenge. The call was sustained.

Still, the Yankees were able to get runs on the board. Gleyber Torres remains hot, ripping a double that scored Rizzo, and advanced to third on the throw him. Josh Donaldson quickly launched a ball that looked like it could fall into the porch, but settled for the sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

That brought up Giancarlo Stanton, who made a bid to end his slump by ripping a huge 447-foot home run into right-center field. More of that before the playoffs, please!

The whole half inning took 10 pitches. Maybe the guys were eager to get out of the chilly weather.

Cortes began his day with four consecutive strikeouts, keeping the O’s off the board with the help of a nice Judge catch at the wall. As the southpaw from Hialeah kept rolling, the Yankees kept on scoring in the home half of the second. Getting the start in place of Jose Trevino after a Friday night game, catche rKyle Higashioka hit a solo shot to left, making it 4-0.

Oswald Peraza followed with a single, bringing Judge up with a runner on. Voth, of course, walked him, and then plunked Rizzo on the back knee to load the bases — the 200th of Rizzo’s career. It’s the milestone that everyone came to see!

Torres then blooped one into shallow center that Cedric Mullins had to dive to make a nice catch on. It looked like Peraza tagged up and scored to make it a sac fly, but the O’s thought he left early and threw to third to double him up there, and the inning was over. The replay showed he didn’t leave early, but after that challenge in the first, there was nothing Boone could do.

Cortes allowed his first baserunner of the game with a leadoff walk to Jorge Mateo in the third. Undeterred, he fanned old friend Rougned Odor and induced Robinson Chirinos to ground into a double play to quickly end any threat. Cortes then let another runner on base with a free pass in the fourth, but that was all, thanks to a slick Torres catch in shallow center of an Adley Rutschman popup. Although Mateo finally got the first hit off of Cortes in the fifth, he was able to again quickly make it through the inning regardless.

Do you like Nestor spinning around and doing his weird leg kicks? (Of course you do.) He did it on his last pitch of the sixth to strike out Ryan Mountcastle — his 10th of the game.

Spenser Watkins replaced Voth in the sixth. The O’s starter had settled down after a shaky beginning, but his line was still rough — five innings pitched, seven hits, four earned runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. Watkins allowed singles to Harrison Bader and Higashioka, but they were erased on a caught stealing and Peraza double play, respectively.

Judge led off the bottom of the seventh against Watkins and walked yet again. It’s getting to be truly ridiculous. At least the Yankees were able to punish Watkins for it. Rizzo slashed a single to left field, and then Torres continued his hot streak with an RBI double to make it 5-0.

Donaldson hit a hard single to left, scoring Rizzo. The Orioles threw wide to home, and then as the Orioles saw Donaldson advancing to second, they threw there but didn’t get him out, also giving Torres time to score to make it 7-0. Bader hit an RBI double as well to bring in the eighth run. They basically chose to intentionally walk the leadoff batter, so that’s what happens!

Nestor was brought back out to start the eighth, getting yet another K to reach a new career-high before departing. His final line is magnificent — 7.1 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, and 12 strikeouts. It was complete dominance and also fully deserving of the kind of ovation that Yankees fans gave him when Cortes left the mound.

Cortes was replaced by newcomer Jacob Barnes, who was added to the roster after Zack Britton was placed on the IL, ending his season. The former Tiger hit Odor with a pitch, but finished the frame unscathed.

The hit parade in the seventh meant Judge got another at bat in the eighth. Blood pressures in Yankee Stadium were skyrocketing when Watkins threw three balls to him, but Judge ended up striking out swinging for the second time. Barnes allowed two hits in the top of the ninth — two-thirds of Baltimore’s hit total on the day — but he struck out Ryan McKenna to end the game.

The Yankees and Orioles will conclude the series tomorrow at 1:35 pm ET, with Luis Severino facing Kyle Bradish.

Box Score