This one stunk.
Friday night was bad enough, when the Yankees scored just a single run in 11 innings. Tonight, they went a step further, or step back — whichever direction you head when you fail to score a single run against one of the worst teams in baseball. Nestor Cortes pitched what might end up being the game of his life, and it really didn’t matter because, for the second time this weekend, the lineup was completely impotent.
There’s not much to talk about in this game except for just how good Cortes was. The Baltimore Orioles aren’t a good team, but as we’ve learned over the past couple seasons, you have to beat everyone if you want to make a run in October. While the offense was nonexistent again, Cortes absolutely dominated Baltimore’s lineup, throwing 5 shutout innings with 12 strikeouts against a lone walk. Perhaps the highlight of the day came in the fourth inning, where Nestor was, quite simply, immaculate:
All 9 pitches of Nestor Cortes recording the 39th immaculate inning of MLB history pic.twitter.com/9WYmfFHZkn— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) April 17, 2022
Cortes also struck out the side in the second, with his first inning being the only frame where he didn’t set down multiple batters himself. I don’t even care that he was facing the O’s — the only guys in Yankee history to fan 12 batters in 5 innings are Nestor, Michael Pineda and Ron Guidry. Today was a special, special day.
I do think that the way Nestor is often talked about is incorrect; I think people have this idea that he’s this crafty lefty throwing a bunch of junk at guys, but he’s not. His fastball, when you examine movement — specifically perceived rise — is legitimately one of the absolute best in baseball. Pairing that with his use of the cutter and slider, keeping the slider away from righties while burying cutters in, is a lot more than a garbage pitcher relying purely on guile. This dude can throw:
As far as other highlights, uh ... the recently-recalled Tim Locastro had a great play?
Boy, that’s really it. Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann pitched five shutout innings of his own, torturing the Yankees with a changeup they couldn’t quite time up, and DJ LeMahieu was the only player to reach base multiple times.
The Orioles finally put the game away in the eighth inning. Jonathan Loáisiga never really had it, loading the bases with one out and bringing up lefty pinch-hitter Rougned Odor while southpaw Lucas Luetge was hot in the bullpen. Aaron Boone made the decision to leave Loáisiga in, Odor singled up the middle, and it was 2-0.
That would’ve been enough to render this ballgame essentially over with the Yankees’ offense looking lifeless, but Baltimore hammered the nail into the coffin when Luetge came in to face a pair of righties. The lefty gave up a double and single for three more runs, and that was it. The Yankees went down in order in the ninth — shocking, I know — and combined to score one run in two losses at Camden Yards this weekend.
There are 152 games left in this season. It is still early, but in this 10-game sample, it looks like the Yankees are at best a copy of last year’s team, and perhaps even worse offensively. There is no energy or authority in too many of their at-bats, and they seem to constantly be relying on the pitching staff to save them, but you’re not going to throw a shutout every night.
By the end of the ballgame, Hoch’s tweet could have been rewritten to say that the Yankees were held scoreless in 26 of 29 innings against the not-so-vaunted Orioles pitching staff. If you were lucky enough to miss most of it, it was as excruciating to watch as it sounds.
I hope you find something fun to do with your Sunday night. Maybe you have a big family dinner planned, or maybe the weather is nice where you are and you can go stand on a bridge somewhere and scream into the void for 45 minutes. This game sucked, taking us from the highest of highs — one of the very best pitching performances we’re likely to see this season — to the most frustrating closing innings. The Yankees are off tomorrow and start a series with the Tigers on Tuesday.
Put this game behind you, go do something fun, and we’ll see you Tuesday night when Gerrit Cole gets the ball at Comerica. First pitch is at 6:40pm ET.