Nestor Cortes, Yankees bats struggle in 15-2 loss to Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — A first-inning grand slam surrendered by Nestor Cortes on Sunday set the tone for an ugly afternoon by the Yankees, who dropped their third consecutive game to the Texas Rangers — this time in blowout fashion.

The bases-loaded blast by Josh Jung was one of three home runs given up by Cortes in the 15-2 loss in Arlington, and one of four slugged by the Rangers overall.

It was the first time in 18 starts that Cortes allowed more than three earned runs in a game.

The Rangers blew the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning with back-to-back home runs by Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia against Cortes. Texas continued racking up runs after Cortes came out, with Jonah Heim hitting the Rangers’ third home run of the frame against Albert Abreu.

Jung also drew a bases loaded walk during a six-run sixth inning, giving him five RBI for the game. The next batter, Heim, then added a two-run double.

The Yankees scored just eight runs during the four-game series at Globe Life Field, during which they lost star slugger Aaron Judge to injury.

After being shut out Saturday, the embattled Yankees lineup showed early signs of life against 2022 All-Star pitcher Martin Perez with six hits through five innings. Anthony Volpe’s third-inning double past a diving Garcia in right field set up an RBI groundout by fellow youngster Oswald Peraza.

From there, the Yankees failed to finish off rallies. DJ LeMahieu was thrown out at home in the fourth inning after a would-be-RBI single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and they didn’t score in the fifth after the first two batters reached.

The Yankees opened the series Thursday with a 4-2 win, with ace Gerrit Cole improving to 5-0. New York’s bats then went cold, scoring two runs in Friday’s loss before being stifled Saturday in Nathan Eovaldi’s complete-game shutout.

Judge started Thursday’s game but left during the fourth inning, a day after he slid awkwardly into third base against the Minnesota Twins. An MRI revealed a mild strain to the top of Judge’s hip, and he didn’t play in the remainder of the Rangers series.

The Yankees hope to decide by Monday whether Judge will require a stint on the injured list. The reigning American League MVP is not expected to play in Monday’s game at Yankee Stadium against the Cleveland Guardians, manager Aaron Boone said.

“He came in feeling a little better today, so I’m sure he’ll go through everything and we’ll evaluate where we are,” Boone said Sunday morning.

Lineup regulars Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson and Harrison Bader are also injured for the Yankees, who have now scored three or fewer runs in eight of their last 10 games. Their 2023 record fell to 15-14 with Sunday’s loss.

The Yankees will look to get back on track Monday with Domingo German set to pitch against Cleveland. The Guardians plan to start Cal Quantrill, who is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA this season.