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Nestor Cortes Blows Past Career High With 11 Strikeouts

There's a reason why they call him Nasty Nestor.

Nestor Cortes didn't just deliver 6.1 strong innings on Wednesday night, providing some length against the Orioles to aid New York's injury-ravaged bullpen. The left-hander set a new career high with 11 strikeouts.

Late-inning drama kept Cortes from factoring into the decision in a victory over Baltimore, but with New York's offense limited to just two runs through the first eight frames, Cortes' performance was integral in the win.

The funky lefty didn't have a role in New York's starting rotation when this season began. In fact, Cortes didn't debut for the Yankees this season until May 30. But ever since the left-hander got rolling in the month of June—earning American League Pitcher of the Month Award votes—Cortes has been as reliable as any other Yankees hurler on this staff.

The 26-year-old made his 11th start of the season on Wednesday night, his 19th appearance of the season. Sure, the opposing lineup is one of the worst in baseball—a club that's sitting more than 50 games below .500—but Cortes took care of business in a big way.

After leadoff man Cedric Mullins flew out to start the bottom of the first, the southpaw's next five outs came via the strikeout.

"I feel like early on when I was racking up the strikeouts, I felt like my command was on point," Cortes said after the game. "I think I didn't really miss much with the fastball, which got me going."

Manager Aaron Boone walked through each of Cortes' pitches, praising the cutter and changeup. The skipper went on to say that Cortes' stuff was as good as it's been all year long.

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The only blemish was a solo home run off the bat of right fielder Austin Hays in the sixth. He wound up permitting just three base hits on the night, walking two to go along with those 11 punch outs. 

"Defense stays alive when the pitcher works quickly. Typically I'm a pitcher that works quick," Cortes explained. "So I like to keep it going, keep the momentum moving and give my team a chance to win."

Cortes now has a 2.60 ERA on the season, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his three starts this month. 

He may fall lower on the depth chart when it comes to New York's pitching rotation, but Cortes' impact has been immeasurable through this summer. There's an argument to be made that Cortes even deserves a spot in the rotation during a playoff series, should this team get that far into October. 

Either way, Wednesday's outing is just the latest quality performance from Cortes who continues to impress each time he's given the ball while other members of this staff have been inconsistent or injured. 

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