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Yankees’ Nestor Cortes tosses gem after controversial illegal pitch

After Nestor Cortez was called for illegal pitching, the rest of his pitching could only be described as terrible.

Cortez retired the last eight batters he faced to lead the Yankees to victory Friday night, as Aaron stormed out of the dugout to take up defense midway through a seventh-inning gem. He was unfazed by the Boone controversy or by Aaron Boone. They defeated the White Sox 4-2.

“At first I thought I wasn’t throwing the ball where I wanted it to be,” Cortez said. “By the third or fourth inning, things were more under control. I could pepper the outside corners the way I wanted. My cutter and fastball were really good, and I was able to use my changeup a lot late in the game. I was able to mix all night long – that’s kind of what got me here.”

On May 17, 2024, Nestor Cortez argued with umpire Laz Diaz during the Yankees’ win over the White Sox. Getty Images

Cortez blocked a runner on the corner in the first inning, hit a two-out double in the fourth inning, and relieved the tension of a two-on, no-out situation by flipping second baseman Zach Remillard in the fifth inning.

No batter was on base after the pickoff.

“His fastball didn’t have enough power, but I thought he hit it in some good places,” Boone said. “Overall, we see that we need to get to the point.”

Cortez (2-4) continued to pitch like an ace at Yankee Stadium, improving to 2-1 with a 1.27 ERA in five starts at home.

He has started five games on the road and is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA.

Opposing batters scored .125 more points on the road against Cortez (.293) than against the Bronx (.168).

Why are the splits so dramatically different?

“That’s a good question,” Cortez said. “I’d like to know that answer too. I’ll prepare the same. I’m trying to do everything the same way I do here at home. It just hasn’t clicked yet. [on the road]. I hope we can turn that around. ”

Perhaps his increased reliance on his changeup (15 changeups vs. 8 swings and 5 whiffs) will turn things around.

“This is a weapon,” Cortez said. “Across the league, everyone knows I’m going to throw strikes. Everyone knows I’m going to attack you. You’re playing mind games with them right now. Whether we need to focus on the changeup now or the heater up, I think the changeup is something we’ll be able to use more of going forward.”

Nestor Cortez pitches during the Yankees' victory over the White Sox on May 17, 2024.
Nestor Cortez pitches during the Yankees’ victory over the White Sox on May 17, 2024. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

In the sixth inning, Cortez threw a fastball one pitch after throwing off the batter’s timing with his trademark exaggerated movement, which home plate umpire Laz Diaz deemed a violation.

Cortez, who strongly advocated for the ruling, declined to comment on the ruling other than to say, “There’s a bit of a gray area.”

Corey Jukes recorded a strikeout in his next at-bat.

“I don’t think it was an illegal pitch,” Boone said. “Nestor was decided. At first [Diaz] He told me he stepped left foot first, but that was clearly not the case. He went down to the right. He just accelerated the windup. I’ll have to look into it, but my first reaction is that this is not an illegal pitch. ”

In any case, it’s not like the White Sox did much with Cortez’s 93 legal pitches.