Yankees’ Nestor Cortes dominates Rays in 7-2 win at Tropicana Field


Yankees' Nestor Cortes dominates Rays in 7-2 win at Tropicana Field

The Yankees have endured some tough games in recent years at Tropicana Field, which has been transformed into a house of horrors of sorts. However, Nestor Cortes is not the type of player to be intimidated by past difficulties; He even pitched five innings with one-run ball during a win at trop just last year. This outing, while solid, was a no-brainer compared to tonight.

Cortes hit a three-hit shutout in the ninth inning and confused the Rays’ batsmen all night. Everything worked for him, and although it took a while for the Yankees’ offense to get going with their makeshift lineup full of benchers and late-scratch substitutions, they blasted it late. Cortes couldn’t complete the shutout, but the Yankees will still walk away happily with a 7-2 win in their season opener against the Rays.

The Rays actually tested Cortes right away. Yandy Díaz made a leadoff walk and while Wander Franco showed up, Harold Ramirez with an out and Randy Arozarena put a runner into goal position. The former Rookie of the Year and playoff hero put in a decent swing to make it 2-1 but picked up a fly that caught Miguel Andújar on the warning track. Díaz substituted and advanced to third, but Cortes got Manuel Margot to line another ball at Andújar, who slowed him in a nosedive to end the threat.

This Ramirez single turned out to be an anomaly. Cortes and Ryan Yarbrough traded zeros in both the run and hit columns for the sixth. Nasty Nestor retired for the next 14 straight Rays, and at the other end Yarbrough had a no-no through five, with the Yankees never really coming close to a hit.

In the top of the sixth, New York finally got going against Yarbrough. They broke his own streak of 14 consecutive batsmen retiring when left-handed newcomer Matt Carpenter plopped to lead the inning and Marwin Gonzalez snapped the no-hitter down the middle with a clean single as well. That got two men with nobody for Aaron Judge, who had uncharacteristically surfaced and grounded during his first couple of trips to the plate. The third time offered something more familiar: an RBI single to put the Yankees in front.

Yarbrough got Anthony Rizzo to fly out, but Ray’s skipper Kevin Cash chose to go to the bullpen. Helper Ryan Thompson did his job, bringing about a popup and a groundball, but Taylor Walls didn’t live up to his end of the bargain. On the Andújar chopper for the short stop, Walls didn’t get a good enough floor and his throw went first bounced off. Two runs scored and the Yankees led 3-0.

After Cortes dismissed the Rays again in the sixth, the Yankees got back to work on another modest rally. Right-hander Ralph Garza Jr. went to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and was unlucky when Jose Trevino’s roll on the third baseline stayed fair and hit the pocket. A Carpenter groundout on the right brought the runners up, and with Judge at the plate, IKF scored on a wild pitch. Although Judge left, the Yankees had to settle for a four-run lead when Rizzo busted out for seventh place.

Three tack-on runs in the ninth game made it a 7-0 ball play thanks to some sloppy Rays defense, but until then, the story of the night quite obviously wasn’t offense. Cortes acted absolutely.

The Rays held after the first hitless until Margot doubled only on an attempted run catch with two outs in the seventh off the edge of the judge’s glove. Cortes then pinned Vidal Bruján in eighth after a single, and manager Aaron Boone gave him a chance to complete the shutout.

Unfortunately, Franco’s leadoff single knocked Cortes out of the game, and a shabby relief from Wandy Peralta allowed Tampa to get on the board. By the end of the ninth heat, another run had scored, but the lead was too great for the Rays to overcome. The final score was 7-2, Yankees, and Cortes had another notable outing to add to his 2022 highlight role. His ERA now stands at 1.70 in 53 innings of work. Send this man to the All-Star game in LA right away.

The Yankees and Rays will be back in action tomorrow night in one of these Amazon Prime video games. They start at 7:10 p.m. ET with Jameson Taillon taking on left Jeffrey Springs.

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