It didn’t factor into the result of the Yankees’ 8-2 win over Kansas City on Saturday afternoon, but one of the reasons they are in the market for another starting pitcher is the fact they’re keeping an eye on Nestor Cortes’ innings.
Manager Aaron Boone said he thought about keeping the left-hander in to start the sixth inning before opting against it with Cortes’ workload in mind.
“There was some consideration in my mind of sending him back out there,’’ Boone said, noting the second batter up was lefty-swinging Vinny Pasquatino after right-handed Hunter Dozier.
Ultimately, though, Boone decided to pull Cortes after 90 pitches.
“He’d worked hard, it was a hot day [and] the innings [limit],’’ Boone said. “Do I really want to push him through [another] two hitters?”
He’s now at 106 ²/₃ innings, his highest number in the majors. He tossed 115 innings in the minors in 2018 after throwing 21 ¹/₃ in Dominican winter ball that offseason.
Cortes was solid again, allowing just two runs over five innings, bringing his season ERA to 2.53.
Now that Luis Castillo has been traded to Seattle — and due to face the Yankees this week — their focus as the Tuesday trade deadline approaches has turned to Oakland’s Frankie Montas.
DJ LeMahieu had three more hits, including his first leadoff homer of the season.
He has reached base multiple times in 16 of his last 19 starts.
“It’s remarkable,’’ Boone said of LeMahieu, who played first base Saturday. “He’s getting on base at such a high [rate].”
The manager also credited LeMahieu for taking advantage of hitting in front of Aaron Judge.
“He’s been getting results,’’ Boone said.
LeMahieu’s production has made up for Josh Donaldson’s latest slump.
Donaldson got the start at third and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He’s mired in a 2-for-24 slump, with just a double and a walk in that stretch, and he has whiffed nine times.
He also hasn’t hit a home run since going deep for a third straight game on July 9, a span of 56 plate appearances over 15 games.
With Yankees fans’ favorite target, Joey Gallo, on his way out of The Bronx, Donaldson heard some boos following his third strikeout on Saturday.
Aaron Hicks’ struggles with the bases loaded surfaced again.
For a second straight game, the outfielder came up with the bases full. He had walked to force in the tying run Friday night, but he ended a rally in the bottom of the first Saturday.
With one out, Hicks grounded into a double play, the fifth of his career in that situation.
That dropped him to 9-for-62 with a homer, 16 walks and 14 strikeouts with the bases loaded.
Andrew Benintendi hit third in the Royals’ lineup 21 times this season, but on a more powerful Yankees offense, it seemed unusual to see the lefty swinger, whose power has been down in 2022, in the three-spot on Saturday.
He walked three times and added a sacrifice fly.
Boone said with Anthony Rizzo out of the lineup against right-hander Jonathan Heasley, he was looking for some balance after LeMahieu and Judge.
“I feel like [Benintendi] is about as natural a fit in any spot as anyone we have,” Boone said.
Giancarlo Stanton, still on the injured list with left ankle tendinitis, isn’t taking part in baseball activities yet, but Boone said he’s feeling better. Without Stanton as the DH, Judge started there again on Saturday for the second time in three games. … Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached base twice, but his 15-game hitting streak ended.
Boone took part in the Old-Timers’ Day ceremony before the game, wearing his No. 19 jersey from his stint as a Yankees player in 2003.
Before the game, he was asked who he’d like to see on the mound if there’s an Old-Timers’ Game again in the future, and he picked Roger Clemens.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing Rocket on the mound,” Boone said. “Maybe not face him. He was an awesome teammate [and] a lot of fun to play with and be around. The way he treated everyone and just how hooked up he was every single day. He was someone everyone enjoyed being around.”