You know, I’m enjoying the last few months of the Yankees season a bit more than the first few. What about you? With tonight’s easy 10-2 victory over the Twins, the Yanks improved to 71-52. They’ve won 30 of their last 41 games, by the way. That’s a 119-win pace over 162 games. It’ll do and I’ll take it. This was not just a thrashing of the Twins, though it was also that. It was what felt like the first easy win of those 30 recent victories.
I’m not sure about you, but it was a relief to watch. Anyway, let’s get to the takeaways, which are straight and to the point.
It’s Nasty Nestor Cortes’ World, And We’re Just Living in It. It is tough to think of a more fun, out-of-the-blue success story than Nestor Cortes Jr. Andrew Velazquez perhaps, but Nasty Nestor is really out here pitching like a damn top-of-the-rotation starter for several weeks. Tonight, all Cortes did was throw 7 innings of 4-hit, 2-run baseball. He struck out 7 and walked just 2 in the process. 7 innings! This sport is so damn wild sometimes.
The game plan was pretty obvious, too: fastballs up and away to righties, and sliders in on the hands. He threw the changeup on the outer half of the plate to righties, too. Look at the execution:
Once again, a steady diet of fastballs (45%) helped Cortes through the day. That pitch has, rather amazingly, been one of baseball’s best since Cortes embarked on this journey. Tonight was no different. The only blemish against him came in the 6th inning, when he gave up a 2-run homer to Josh Donaldson. He also struck Donaldson out twice, though, so that was nice. Love it when the Yankees get that guy out. Always have and I always will.
Importantly, Cortes is also just a ton of fun to watch pitch. He is the sort of player that keeps you on the edge of your feet with every wind up. Look at his release points tonight:
Wild. Honestly wild. Love to watch him pitch. Here is some of the video for those of you who may have missed the game:
The Best Yankees’ Lineup Contains Luke Voit. For one reason or another, Yankee fans seem dead set on getting rid of Luke Voit. He was not taken seriously even after 2018, blamed for being hurt in 2019, and trade speculation fodder after 2020’s monster season. I’ll admit that it made more sense to trade Luke for the 48 hours post-Rizzo trade before the deadline, but not that much. Why? The dude can flat out hit.
Consider his MLB ranks among players with 75% or more of their games at 1B since the start of the 2018 season and at least 1,000 PA:
- OPS+: 126 (2nd behind Freddie Freeman)
- Slugging Percentage: .538 (3rd, 1st in AL)
- OBP: .364 (5th, 1st in AL)
- OPS: .883 (3rd, 1st in AL)
There are flaws in his game, sure – he’s not a great defender and he gets hurt a lot – but I have always believed that Yankee fans don’t really appreciate Voit’s production enough. He’s been about as good as it gets offensively from 1B since his NYY debut – a position that had been a black hole for New York since Teixeira hung ’em up.
On top of that, Voit is very clearly a team leader. He is vocal, he calls the team out when they need to, and he’s blunt about himself and his own performance. We saw that this week when he basically told the Yankees they had no business benching him. (I know this was controversial. For me, though, I loved it.) And what has he done since? He has absolutely raked. Tonight was no different.
Voit went 4-5 in this one, scoring 2 runs and driving in 4 on a HR and a double. He was single-handedly responsible for 6 Yankee runs. It was a damn good performance. Voit kicked it all off in the first inning, when he came to the plate with the bases loaded and one man out. This was a situation in which the Yankees were not coming through even six weeks ago:
That put the Yankees ahead for good. Here’s what Voit did a few innings later, unsatisfied with merely one RBI hit:
Then, finally, Voit came up again in the 7th inning. He was still unsatisfied, so he popped an opposite-field homer just to remind everyone of what he can do at the dish:
There is a lot to be said about the next few weeks for the Yankees. They’re within striking distance of the AL East and have played themselves into the playoffs. Should they hold on to that spot, it is becoming abundantly clear that their best lineup includes Luke Voit.
- Well, would you look at that: an easy, blowout win. The Yankees took the lead in the first inning and did not look back for even a minute. It was an 8-run lead in the 9th inning, which allowed them to use Brody Koerner for the final frame. It’s a game they desperately needed, and it was a legitimate relief to watch. A stress free game! What a concept.
- A nice night for Brett Gardner, who logged two hits and an RBI in two AB. He did get hit in his third and final plate appearance. The Yankees took him out of the game after, but I hope it was precautionary. Gardy has been playing really well lately, by the way. Let’s not forget it.
- it was also a nice night for DJ LeMahieu. He hit the ball hard a few times, including his first home run since June 26. He added another hit, walked, drove in 2, and scored 3 times. That’s the DJ LeMahieu we’ve all been missing.
- It’s been a rough stretch for Joey Gallo, who was 0-4 with 3 Ks and a walk. If the team was struggling, fans would be all over him, but the team is winning so they’re not. I’m good with that, because Gallo is going to be a huge piece of the team down the stretch.
- Joely Rodriguez looked good in his one inning of work in the 8th, too, striking out 2 on 13 pitches. Good stuff there.
The Yankees will try to win this series tomorrow when they take on the Twins again. That will be at 1:05 pm and Gerrit Cole (11-6, 3.04 ERA) will take on Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.41 ERA) in that one. Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone. The Yankees sure are making it easy these days.