By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees All-Star pitcher Nestor Cortes left Game 4 of the AL Championship Series with a left groin injury after allowing a tying three-run homer to Houston’s Jeremy Pena in the third inning on Sunday night.
Cortes did not pitch between Aug. 21 and Sept. 8 because of a strained left groin, then returned to make five regular-season starts and two against Cleveland in the Division Series.
He struggled with his control in his first outing since beating the Guardians in Game 5, going to three-ball counts on seven of 11 batters. His fastball and slider velocity were both down about 1.5 mph from their season average.
With the Yankees leading 3-0, Martin Maldonado walked leading off the third and Yankees manager Aaron Boone and head athletic trainer Tim Lentych went to the mound with a 2-1 count on Jose Altuve.
Cortes stayed in the game and walked Altuve, the first time the 27-year-old right-hander walked consecutive batters this year.
Cortes fell behind 3-1 and left a slider up that Pena drove into the left-field seats. Boone and Lentych returned to the mound, and Cortes walked to the dugout with a glum expression as Wandy Peralta replaced him.
Cortes threw just 28 of 55 pitches for strikes. allowing two hits and three walks in two innings.
Houston took a 4-3 lead later in the third off Peralta when Yordan Alvarez doubled, took third on Kyle Tucker’s single and scored on Yuli Gurriel’s single.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.