Nestor Curtis, Yankees Bullpen Close the mighty Blue Jays

Leave it to Nestor Curtis Jr. to tame the Blue Jays and get the Yankees back on track.

The left-footed player, who emerged as an unexpected but valuable piece of spin last year, picked where he left off and cut a dangerous lineup across 4 point-free rounds.

The Yankees took care of the rest, continuing their dominance early in the season to snatch a two-game slip with a 4-0 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night in the Bronx.

“[Cortes] “It was fantastic,” said Director Aaron Boone. “Against this attack, he was a burden and was in complete control. … Overall, it is a really strong start to the season for Nestor.”

In another fairly quiet game to attack the Yankees, Aaron Hicks took the big hit – Homer from two runs in the second half. But that was enough to fend off Jays and even the series, thanks to the Yankees cast.

The Blue Jays threatened in the eighth inning against Jonathan Loisega with a pair of singles. But Loaisiga pushed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. To get out to escape the crowd.

Nestor Cortes, who threw 4-1/3 innings without goals and four faithfuls, led the Yankees to a 4-0 victory over the Blue Jays.
Nestor Cortes, who threw 4-1/3 innings without goals and four faithfuls, led the Yankees to a 4-0 victory over the Blue Jays.
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The Yankees then added a locking push at the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Giancarlo Stanton before Aroldis Chapman took the win in the ninth inning.

Curtis, who hadn’t played in a game in 10 days (the Grapefruit League finale came on April 2), showed no signs of rust. Retired 11 hitters in a row after giving up a double lead, he limited the Blue Jays to only three hits and didn’t walk while hitting five.

It looked a lot like what Curtis gave the Yankees last season — when he was pushed into the rotation mid-season due to injuries and COVID-19, he went on to score a 2.90 ERA. After the Yankees were in the market to add another new pitcher in the off-season but didn’t, Curtis’ debut of the season gave hope that his 2021 powerhouse wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

Aaron Hicks grabbed Homer's two-round belt during the Yankees' win over the Blue Jays.
Aaron Hicks grabbed Homer’s two-round belt during the Yankees’ win over the Blue Jays.
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“I think I’m more prepared,” said Curtis, who made 72 throws as he continued to increase workloads. “Last year I did some good runs, and hopefully this year I can do that and start the whole season and make good runs.”

Cortes’ fastball won’t light up the radar — it sat 90-93 mph Tuesday — but it does play with his short arm movement, according to his teammates and Boone, to complement his not-quick pitches.

“He proved it last year,” said DJ LeMahieu, who has had a pair of hit songs. “Its time and looks great there.”

DJ LeMahieu celebrated with Aaron Hicks after scoring a run in the Yankees' win over the Blue Jays.
DJ LeMahieu celebrated with Aaron Hicks after scoring a run in the Yankees’ win over the Blue Jays.
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After being tied at the top of the league (22) in a home ejection last year, the Yankees faced their first out on the plate this season at the bottom of the first. With one exit, Josh Donaldson went 1st to 3rd in a double fired by Anthony Rizzo from the right field wall. But after seeing Tuscar Hernandez struggle to catch the ball in the right field, Donaldson broke home, only to be sent off.

But the Yankees made money in a later round of Blue Jays starter Yossi Kikuchi, courtesy of twice from Hicks to the short porch on the right field. The 2-0 score was the first time the Yankees had scored first this season.

“It was a really good feeling, especially to do that on my first hit, because I’m the first to score,” Hicks said.

The Yankees ran another run at the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to a foul by Blue Jays catcher Tyler Heinemann. LeMahieu was at second base and Gleyber Torres was at the start when Heineman tried to capture Torres. But the layup passed Guerrero, allowing LeMahieu to score to lead 3-0.

The Bulls made sure of the lead, having now given up three runs gained over 27²/ of innings to start the season.

“They’re really good,” Boone said. “They all came tonight and did what we expected of them.”