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Yankees’ Nestor Cortes continues trend of strong outings

Considering the Yankees’ batting lineup, Nestor Cortez couldn’t afford a bad inning.

But what’s next for Nestor Cortez suggests he should have some less frustrating nights this season.

Cortez was strong again in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Athletics in the Bronx, continuing his trend of getting good work out of the Yankees’ rotation despite the absence of Gerrit Cole.

Nestor Cortez pitches during the Yankees’ loss to the Athletics on April 24, 2024. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

Cortez pitched at least seven innings for the second consecutive game and third in the last four.

He was effective, with no walks and allowing five hits and three runs, all of which came on two swings in the third inning.

First Oakland’s Nick Allen hit a home run — “I thought I threw too many fastballs to Allen there,” Cortez said — and Cortez hit another fastball before Tyler Nevin hit a two-run hit. lamented the choice.

But otherwise, the left-hander said he’s out of the boat and healthy again. Cortez is coming off an injury-plagued lackluster season, and he had to be inactive in December due to insufficient recovery of his shoulder during offseason training.

He started six games into the season and recorded an ERA of 3.50, and his shoulder is showing signs of recovery.

Coach Cortes said, “I feel healthy,” and was satisfied with his coaching. “I feel like I’m recovering really well. So now I’m just catching up on the program, continuing the program and following it as much as I can, continuing to go out every five days.”

Without Cole, Yankees starting pitchers had a 3.06 ERA, fourth in baseball as of Thursday’s game. Yankees starting pitchers have allowed three or fewer earned runs in 23 of 26 games this year.

“It’s certainly similar to their situation,” manager Aaron Boone said of his rotation. “And I certainly like that they’re throwing the ball every night and giving us opportunities.”

After the loss, the Yankees optioned right-hander Cody Morris to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, potentially freeing up a roster spot for new recruit Michael Tonkin.

Clay Holmes’ nine saves are tied for the most in baseball.

The closer has a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings, with Holmes, who has experienced wild pitches in the past, giving up one walk.

The unassuming reliever, who was traded to the Pirates in 2021, was as consistent as his manager has seen.

“We feel like we have a more polished, more complete pitcher than we’ve had at various times over the last few years,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s gotten better at handling his delivery and his weapons. If something isn’t exactly right, he’s better able to correct it on the fly.”

clay holmes
Clay Holmes missed the Yankees’ opening game of the year. Bill Kostron/New York Post

If Holmes is having his best season, it could come at a good time for the soon-to-be free agent.

The 31-year-old still has trouble getting the ball up like any other pitcher in baseball, entering plays with a ground ball rate of 67.6 percent. This skill is especially useful at Yankee Stadium, where the porch on the right side is short.

Holmes has shown no signs of worrying about pending free agency. That’s befitting his brand of right-hand man, who continues to be a calm presence in the clubhouse even when his own work falls through.

“He’s a very good professional,” Boone said. “He handles everything that happens in a major league season, especially as a closer, back-end reliever, which can be difficult. He always handles it very well when he hits bumps in the road. He gave it to me.

“I feel like he’s a really good worker. He’s been really, really good the last couple of years since we’ve had him. But he’s never satisfied. He’s always on his toes. I’m working hard to improve my technique.”

Earlier in the day, the Yankees claimed Tonkin, who became the most traveled pitcher in baseball this season.

The 34-year-old right-hander was named to the Mets’ opening roster, but pitched in just three games before being drafted.

The Twins picked him up and watched him pitch one game before being DFAed.

The Mets acquired him again and he pitched for the Mets on Saturday and Sunday before yet another DFA.

The Yankees added Tonkin, who pitched well for the Braves last season and posted a 4.28 ERA as a long man out of the bullpen.

Coach Boone said of Tonkin, “He’s definitely a guy that gives us length. The guys that had success this year and last year were really good pitchers.” “Chance to get a good pitcher” [we] I feel like it could help us. ”

The Yankees selected Triple-A right-hander McKinley Moore to add Tonkin to the 40-man roster.

Infielder John Barty, who has been out since April 10 with a left groin strain, could begin rehabbing Sunday, Boone said.

Berti took batting practice and hit some ground balls before Thursday’s game, but Boone said he needs to get through “a few heavy days” before being cleared for duty.

Once Berti is ready, the Yankees will be happy to welcome the flexible infielder back, although they don’t have a backup first baseman or backup shortstop as Oswaldo Cabrera is the permanent third baseman in DJ LeMahieu’s absence. .