September 27, 2022

Yankees pitchers made sure Nestor Cortes kept his ‘Immaculate inning’ ball

The Yankees’ pitchers quickly made a deal to get Nestor Cortes the ball back. (Nick Wass/AP)

BALTIMORE — Nestor Cortes became the first pitcher in 2022 to throw an “Immaculate inning.” In the fourth, the lefthander struck out the side on nine pitches. As he walked off the field at the end of the inning, catcher Kyle Higashioka absent-mindedly tossed the ball into the stands as he would normally do.

“He didn’t realize it,” Cortes said. “It’s  the heat of the moment. He threw the ball up but thankfully we got it back.”

The pitchers in the dugout went wild — and went to work. They had Higashioka figure out who had the ball and then Gerrit Cole negotiated a trade. Cortes got the game ball to keep and a savvy kid got a Gerrit Cole autographed ball.

“Kind of like towards the end, when I got to the eighth pitch, I knew,” Cortes said of the Immaculate inning. “I kind of wasn’t looking for it but I was hopeful I was able to get it.”

CHANGES

The Yankees added Tim Locastro to the roster Sunday after sending down rookie reliever JP Sears. That not only reshapes the roster to give Aaron Boone a four-man bench, it also gave the Bombers a chance to rest Joey Gallo for the first time this season.

“Just kind of getting through this stretch going into an off day  (Monday) we felt like now is the time. as we debated 15 or 16 (pitchers) coming out of spring and obviously went with 16.  I think now it makes more sense to have the extra flexibility position player wise. I gives us a chance with JP to send him down and keep him stretched out to get some starts going. Obviously  he did a really nice job for us while he was here. I’m sure we’ll be back at some point, but for now, I think there’s some value in getting him starting.”

Gallo, who has gotten off to a slow start, pinch hit for Locastro in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards.

The roster move made it easier for Boone to get Gallo out of the lineup and maybe take some pressure off him. While recognizing that he is the player the analytics department wanted, a slugger who hits for power not average and draws walks to keep his on-base percentage acceptable while striking out a lot, Gallo has not been able to do that yet this season. In nine games, Gallo is slashing .143/.294/.143 with no home runs, six walks and 11 strikeouts in 28 at-bats.

Boone said that Locastro, a right-handed hitting outfielder who has speed, was not brought up to platoon with Gallo.

“I think Timmy brings a lot of value. I really, really like him against left-handed pitching. I love his speed and his defensive ability to play all three (positions) out there. Obviously, he’s guy that we can use off the bench in a lot of different roles,” Boone said. “I see him up here certainly to play an important role for us and there’s probably some starts out there for him to be had but I don’t see it becoming that situation.”

Locastro made a diving catch in left field to rob Trey Mancini of an extra-base hit.