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Nestor Cortes struggles early again as Yankees’ winning streak comes to an end

PHOENIX — For the second time in as many starts this season, Nestor Cortes could not escape the first unscathed.

Pitching against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, the southpaw surrendered three runs in the first frame after allowing singles to Blaze Alexander, Eugenio Suárez and Gabriel Moreno. The Astros scored the same amount in the initial inning on Opening Day, but the Yankees fought back and won that game.

That didn’t happen on Tuesday, as the Diamondbacks never relinquished their lead and handed the Yankees their first lost of the season, a 7-0 defeat.

“I can’t put my team in a hole that early that often,” said Cortes, who has a 6.30 ERA to begin the season.

The first-inning damage against Cortes could have been worse, but a run-down at the plate started a cross-diamond double play.

“Credit to them for taking advantage of a few mistakes in that inning and putting them in play hard,” Aaron Boone said of Arizona. “But a good job of settling in. We just obviously couldn’t mount enough offensively.”

While Cortes’ opening act required a mound visit from Matt Blake, the starter did find a groove after the first. Cortes ended up giving the Yankees five innings and didn’t allow another run.

His final line also included eight hits, two walks and two strikeouts over 88 pitches.

“I thought I made a couple good pitches,” Cortes said. “Just got to do a better job of limiting damage in that first inning. Second time it’s happened already in the season. Just take care of the first inning and it would have been a nice night.”

Arizona struck again in the seventh when Christian Walker belted a three-run homer off new Yankees reliever Jake Cousins. The seventh run crossed the plate on a wild pitch in the eighth.

While the Diamondbacks were able to take advantage of some early traffic against Cortes, the Yankees couldn’t do the same with Arizona ace Zac Gallen.

The 2023 Cy Young finalist wasn’t at his best in the first, but the Yankees failed to capitalize on two free passes. They did the same with a pair of two-out singles in the second.

“We had a little bit of traffic there the first couple of innings, but he was able to make a pitch when he needed to,” Boone said of Gallen. “Was cutting it well. Seemed like he was living around the edges. Thought he was sharp, and as he got going, he settled in pretty well.”

The Bombers didn’t put up much of a fight after the second inning, and Gallen ended up with six scoreless frames, three walks and six strikeouts. He only allowed three hits over 96 pitches.

“He was just hitting his spots, especially with two strikes,” said Anthony Rizzo, who didn’t love some the calls that went Gallen’s way. “He wasn’t really missing over the middle of the plate at all.

“He’s a really good pitcher. He just shut us down.”


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