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Yankees 5, White Sox 1: Nestor, Nestor, Nestor

Another outstanding start from the Yankees lefty paced the club to a Sunday win and their eighth series victory in a row.

MLB: New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

I guess you’d call this one a pitcher’s duel?

Michael Kopech had a terrible second inning but was strong otherwise, Nestor Cortes continued his very real All Star starter case, and while the Yankees recorded just two hits, the offensive production was enough for a 5-1 win over the White Sox on Sunday afternoon. The W marked the Yankees’ eighth series victory in a row, a streak that dates back to Easter.

The soft underbelly of Michael Kopech is his control problems, as his 11.4-percent walk rate entering play takes a bite out of his excellent stuff. He had a strong, 10-pitch first inning, but really didn’t fool any Yankees on the day, failing to log a single swing-and-miss in the 51 pitches he threw in the first two innings.

That total included those 10 pitches in the first, and a sheer nightmare in the second inning. Four Yankees were issued free passes, and all three runs the club put up in the inning came without a hit (taking a page out of the Pirates’ Sunday playbook). Both Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu walked with the bases loaded, and Jose Trevino came home on a bases-loaded wild pitch, putting New York up early, 3-0.

After that bump in the road, Kopech settled down again, getting through the sixth without allowing another baserunner; albeit with just a trio of strikeouts. It was kind of a weird day for the Yankee offense, as while it wasn’t like Kopech was consistently missing bats, the club didn’t really start whiffing until the bullpen came in. However, it also felt like aside from a lineout here or there, they weren’t seeing the ball well outside of the big second inning.

Meanwhile, hey, Cortes was outstanding again. He struck out the side in the third inning on 10 pitches, narrowly missing his second immaculate inning of the season. Luis Robert reached on a single in the first inning, and Tim Anderson had a base hit in the sixth, and that was really it ... until he finally ran out of gas in the eighth inning.

Adam Engel broke through with one out in that frame, taking Nestor deep to left field to make it a 3-1 ballgame. Yasmani Grandal followed that up with a long fly out, and it was becoming clear that Cortes had hit a wall, although he was able to finish the inning. Yeah, he looked worn out facing those final four hitters, but boy, you can’t complain about eight innings of one-run ball. That’s ace pitching.

Seven strikeouts against no walks.

Lowering his ERA on the season to 1.35.

Working with incredible efficiency, often beginning his delivery just seven or eight seconds after receiving the ball despite Anderson’s early attempts to throw him off.

We are running out of ways to talk about how excellent Nestor’s season has been, and words on their own are becoming superfluous. It’s one of the most incredible pitching runs in recent Yankee history, and however long it lasts — he can’t possibly continue pitching this well, can he?? — his starts are one of the best things of my week.

Oh, Nestor’s cutter must also absolutely torture right-handed hitters.

Of course, you can’t have a great start like that without at least a little help from your defense. Josh Donaldson went 0-for-3 at the plate, but was invaluable at third, with seven assists and none better than his sixth-inning web gem:

It looked for a very long while like that second inning would be the only offense of the day, before Joey Gallo reminded us all that he’s very, very good at baseball:

Gallo’s worn some real criticism for his seeming reluctance to hammer pitches over the middle. Well, that was a fastball right over the middle:

That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do with a pitch like that. Keep doing that, Joey.

Baseball’s a weird little sport, as the side was retired in order 12 times today. Were it not for a remarkable loss of the strike zone, the Yankees might have been shut out entirely. In fact, this game tied the franchise record for the most runs scored when recording just two hits — thanks to Matt Ferenchick for that. Still, at the end of the day the club won its 25th game of the year, and took three out of four on the road against a team that was supposed to have World Series ambitions.

The Yankees fly down to Baltimore with a good chance to win another series, although they’ll once again have to contend with the New Death Valley in left field. The first pitch of that game comes at 7:05pm ET with Luis Severino facing rookie Kyle Bradish.

Box Score