CHICAGO — When Nestor Cortes was in high school, his father used to complain when he wandered off the mound while he was pitching.
“He was sick of me getting tired going into the sixth, so he said stop walking so much and maybe you’ll get there,” Cortes said.
Cortes got there, all right. And kept going, all the way to one of baseball’s biggest surprises so far this year.
Staying on the mound and working quickly — just like his dad would have wanted — Cortes pitched a career-high eight innings to lead the Yankees to a 5-1 victory over Michael Kopech and the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
“That was another special outing,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “I mean, just in complete control.”
The Yankees managed just two hits: a second-inning single for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and a two-run homer by Joey Gallo in the ninth. But it was more than enough, thanks to the crafty Cortes (2-1).
Cortes, 27, carried a no-hitter into the eighth in his previous outing against Texas, and on Sunday he allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked none in another brilliant performance. He has permitted two runs or fewer in each of his seven starts this year.
Since his first big league outing of last season, on May 30, 2021, Cortes has an A.L.-low 2.44 E.R.A. over 133 innings. He has allowed three runs or fewer in 16 straight starts, matching Luis Severino in 2018 for the second-longest such streak in franchise history.
“As long as I can go out there and compete and give my team a chance, I’m happy and comfortable,” Cortes said.
Asked if he sees himself as one of the majors’ best pitchers, Cortes demurred.
“Not really. There’s a lot of good pitchers out there,” he said. “I just try and do my part.”
Clay Holmes finished the four-hitter for the Yankees’ 18th win in 21 games.