BOSTON — Nestor Cortes allowed just one run in more than five innings Wednesday night, but his fourth-inning strikeout of Rafael Devers really stood out in the Yankees’ 5-3 win over the Red Sox .
The southpaw used a particularly brilliant delivery on the final stick throw, hooking and swinging his right leg before tossing the pitch, resulting in a swinging strike that brought Devers out for second.
“He fouls a lot on good shots and I felt like I had to do something different,” Cortes said. “As soon as I lifted my leg, all hell broke loose. It was a well-executed pitch and I managed to swing it.
Even receiver Jose Trevino said he was “caught off guard” by the field.
Cortes said he was thinking about the delivery as he went.
“To be honest,” he added, “I almost fell.”
More importantly, Cortes said he felt good after missing time with a strained groin. He was retired after 65 pitches as he prepares for the stretch run and the playoffs.
Aroldis Chapman is expected to meet the Yankees in Milwaukee and be active for Friday night’s series opener against the Brewers after kicking off a final rehab game for Double-A Somerset on Tuesday.
The southpaw has been out since August 27 with an infection in his left leg caused by a tattoo.
Manager Aaron Boone said Chapman’s role will be determined, in part, by how he pitches when he returns.
“We’ll see,” Boone said of Chapman, who had an extremely inconsistent season. “Physically we know he’s still there.”
Now it’s all about Chapman being able to stick to his own mechanics, which has been a problem for much of the year.
Scott Effross, the right-hander acquired from the Cubs at the trade deadline, is also nearing his return from a right shoulder injury that has kept him out for the past three weeks. He is scheduled to kick off a live batting practice Friday in Milwaukee and could be back soon after.
Zack Britton went on a rehab outing on Wednesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He threw 11 pitches in a scoreless inning in his bid to come back just a year after UCL surgery.
The southpaw still needs more work and the Yankees will have to decide if he has enough time to get back to his form in time for the playoffs.
Anthony Rizzo had another promising day on his return after a lower back strain delayed by headaches from an epidural. The first baseman could face pitches for the first time on Friday, possibly against Effross in Milwaukee, with a potential return to the lineup as early as Sunday against the Brewers.
“We’ll listen to his body and him,” said Boone, who on Sunday called “a possibility.”
Rizzo took ground balls, hit the cage and ran “100 percent,” according to Boone. It should have a light day on Thursday before more activity on Friday.
“So far so good,” Rizzo said of how he’s been feeling since recovering from his headache.
DJ LeMahieu will take longer before he is ready to return from an inflamed right toe. Boone said he could start hitting again this weekend in Milwaukee.
LeMahieu had expressed hope that he could be back in time for the Yankees’ next homestand, which begins Tuesday against the Pirates.
Aaron Judge hasn’t had a game since Aug. 3 and Boone said he’d like that to change before the end of the season.
“Hopefully at some point,” Boone said. “It means we are in a good position [in the standings]. It’s been a while now.
Boone noted the Yankees are in the middle of a three-in-eight-day bye stretch, including Thursday and Monday.
“It’s helpful,” Boone said. “The handful of public holidays [four] that he overcame during the year have served him well.
Aaron Hicks returned to the lineup after missing two plays in left field Friday night, which led to his benching. He went 0 for 4, but scored the Yankees’ first run after hitting an error in the fifth inning.
“We put the other day behind us and he’s part of that,” Boone said.