HOUSTON — Nestor Cortes is becoming a lot more than a fill-in starter for the Yankees. This soft-tossing, 100-different-deliveries lefty looks legit and then some.
Making his second start Friday night, Cortes worked 4 2/3 shutout innings in playing a huge part of the Yankees’ 4-0 win over the Houston Astros.
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Brett Gardner had a big night, too, raking a two-run, fourth-inning double off Astros starter Jake Odorizzi that opened the scoring and broke an 0-for-14. Gardner also walked with one out in the seventh to ignite a rally that was capped by DJ LeMahieu’s two-run double.
Still building up his pitch count, Cortes held the Astros to four baserunners on two hits and two walks before being pulled after 74 pitches with two outs in the fifth, a runner on first and the Yankees up 2-0.
“I was hoping for three or four, and he was pitch efficient enough to almost get through five,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Cortes. “He was huge for us. I’m sure he’ll be upset with me for not getting the win, but he gave us more than we could hope for.”
This was the second uplifting short start in a row by Cortes, who held the Mets to one run over 3 1/3 innings last Sunday in a Game 2 doubleheader win for the Yankees that snapped a three-game losing streak.
Since being called up from Triple-A on May 30, Cortes has pitched to 1.05 ERA over nine outings. In 25 2/3 innings, he’s allowed just 13 hits and four runs, three earned, with 31 strikeouts and 10 walks.
This was a big series-opening win for the Yanks, who improved to 3-1 on a two-city roadtrip that leads into the All-Star break.
— First baseman Luke Voit didn’t play because he’s banged up from being hit in the hand by a pitch in Thursday’s game and struck in the knee by a pitch last Saturday. He’s expected to be in the lineup Saturday and Sunday.
— Gary Sanchez snapped an 0-for-18 with a first-inning single. He finished the night 1-for-4, which left him 5-for-41 over his last 12 games.
— Left fielder Miguel Andujar sat out a third game in a row due to hand and wrist soreness that is a strain, according to results from an MRI. The Yankees still are deciding whether or not to place Andujar on the 10-day injured list.
— Friday was the 10th anniversary of Derek Jeter becoming the 28th player to record 3,000 career. He did it by homering off Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price at Yankee Stadium.
Saturday: Yankees at Astros, 7:15 p.m., EST; FOX. Gerrit Cole (8-4, 2.91) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.64).
Sunday: Yankees at Astros, 2:10 p.m., EST; WPIX & TBS. LHP Jameson Taillon (4-4, 5.05) vs. LHP Framber Valdez (5-1, 2.86).
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