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Yankees 6, Reds 7: Pitchers’ duel turns to bullpen implosion

Nestor was nasty again, but the offense couldn’t solve Luis Castillo and the bullpen couldn’t hold down the fort.

Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees had a golden opportunity to take another series victory at home against an opponent that has given them more trouble than their record would indicate. Nestor Cortes matched innings with Luis Castillo pound for pound, giving them seven frames of one-run ball, but the bullpen didn’t manage to hold up its end of the bargain. Instead, Jonathan Loáisiga and Lucas Luetge combined to allow six runs (five earned) in 1.2 innings of work, putting a rally just barely out of reach for the Yankee offense.

Let’s start with the positive, shall we? Cortes came into this start with a shaky recent track record, allowing three or more runs in three of his last four outings. He bounced back in a big way tonight, going seven deep and avoiding trouble for the most part. He ran into a jam in the fifth inning, loading the bases in the fifth inning on a single, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. Cortes then got Brandon Drury to fly out to right, but Matt Carpenter clutched the ball up and allowed the runner to tag up without much of a fight. It would’ve been a tough play to make anyway, but it was an unfortunate way to allow Cortes’ sole runner of the night.

The Yankees were faring even worse against Castillo, entering the sixth inning without a single hit. After a DJ LeMahieu grounder and an Aaron Judge walk, Anthony Rizzo ended the no-no bid with a booming double to right. Judge didn’t manage to score on the base knock, but Giancarlo Stanton rolled a grounder up the middle that the Reds couldn’t field fast enough, allowing the big man to score from third.

The Yankees turned to Loáisiga to start the eighth, fresh off of a rehab stint and making his first MLB appearance in nearly two months. It didn’t go smoothly for him in his return, giving up singles to the first two batters he faced. After a fielder’s choice cut down the runner at second, Joey Votto singled home a run and Kyle Farmer singled home two more. The Reds suddenly held a 4-1 lead in a game that was previously anyone’s to grab.

The Yankees, to their credit, answered right back. Castillo was lifted for Jeff Hoffman, and Judge greeted him with a bullet homer into the bullpen. Hoffman settled down for the next two batters, but walked Carpenter and then served one up to Gleyber Torres to tie the game at four.

Two walks and a hit-by-pitch set the Yankees up with a chance to take the lead, but LeMahieu struck out to end the threat.

Clean innings from both teams sent us to extra innings, and Luetge was summoned to handle the 10th with several of the Yankees’ top-tier relievers unavailable. Luetge has been a lot better of late, but this wasn’t his day — back-to-back one-out doubles scored a pair of runs, and a two-out single gave the Reds another three-run lead. New York rallied again, thanks to a Carpenter two-run shot to lead off the bottom of the inning, but the comeback died on LeMahieu’s bat again to end it.

It was a strange series all around, and the Reds showed that they aren’t to be taken lightly after sweeping Tampa and beating New York. For the Yankees, they’re scuffling heading into one more matchup with the Red Sox before the All-Star break arrives. First pitch for that series will be tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. EST on Amazon Prime.

Box Score