Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees connects on his first...

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees connects on his first inning home run against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Friday, May 17, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As far as we know, there’s no scientific reason why Nestor Cortes simply is better at Yankee Stadium. There are no metrics on whether dirty water hot dogs make pitchers stronger. The wind probably doesn’t blow any differently in the Bronx.

In fact, the only theory Aaron Boone could offer up was this: “I think Nestor likes pitching here. You know, he’s been a guy that the fan base has embraced, and he’s embraced them. He loves being a Yankee and pitching in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. But I’d like to think he could be the same outstanding pitcher on the road, and hopefully over time, that shows itself.”

Whatever magic is at work, though, it was fully in play on Friday night (granted, against the worst offense in baseball): Despite coming off a shaky start in St. Petersburg against the Rays, Cortes continued the Yankees’ recent trend of starting pitching dominance in a 4-2 win over the White Sox.

Coming into the day as the team with the best record in the American League, the Yankees (31-15) did what they ought to in beating up on the team with the worst record in the AL (14-31). They tied their season high with their fifth straight win, have won 11 of the last 13 and have two more games on tap this weekend against a team with the lowest OPS in baseball.

Giancarlo Stanton (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Aaron Judge homered. Judge also walked three times and is hitting .465 with six home runs in his last 13 games.

Cortes, who came into Friday with a 1.59 ERA at home and a 6.75 ERA on the road this season, again was up to the task in front of the home crowd. Utilizing a much-improved changeup, he struck out six in seven innings and allowed one unearned run, five hits and a walk.

“It’s a weapon,” Cortes said of his changeup, which he threw 15 times. “I think everyone across the league, everybody knows that I throw strikes. Everybody knows that I’m going to go in on you. Now it’s playing that mind game, whether they have to look for that changeup now or they have to look for that heater up.

“I think the changeup is going to be something that I can use more going forward, and if I can throw it like I did tonight, it’s going to be a plus.’’

Yankees starters have allowed two runs (one earned) in the last five games — good for a 0.27 ERA — and have pitched at least six innings in each of those starts. Overall, the rotation owns a 3.03 ERA, second in the AL.

Clay Holmes, who pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 13th save, has thrown 19 1⁄3 innings without allowing an earned run. He even got a snazzy new light show for his efforts (Judge said the team petitioned for Holmes to have the pumped-up closer entrances that are taking over the league).

“We’ve been trying to talk to the right people to get that,” Judge said. “You’ve got a closer like we do, we’ve got to have something special for him. It gave all of us goose bumps.”

Judge produced a few goose bumps of his own, starting the Yankees off with a solo blast in the first inning. He pulled Mike Clevinger’s 3-and-1 sinker 433 feet to left for his 12th homer.

The White Sox tied it in the third thanks to a defensive miscue by Oswaldo Cabrera. Zach Remillard led off the inning by tapping a slow roller to third, which Cabrera threw offline to Anthony Rizzo for a two-base error. Remillard stole third and scored on Andrew Vaughn’s one-out single.

The Yankees went ahead for good in the fourth. Judge walked, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Alex Verdugo’s double into the rightfield corner. Stanton’s RBI double made it 3-1.

Stanton added another run all by himself in the sixth, rocketing Tanner Banks’ first-pitch fastball 417 feet to left for his 10th homer and putting the Yankees up 4-1.

“I think he’s finally feeling healthy and feeling like himself,” Judge said of Stanton. “For him to put in the work he put in this offseason . . . that speaks volumes with the type of person he is, the type of competitor he is.

“He wasn’t happy with how the last couple of seasons [went], so to see him come out here and do it, it’s been great.”

The White Sox cut their deficit to 4-2 in the eighth when Tommy Pham doubled off Ian Hamilton and Vaughn singled him in. Pinch hitter Gavin Sheets doubled to put the tying runs in scoring position, but Caleb Ferguson came on and slammed the door, striking out Andrew Benintendi before getting Corey Julks to fly out to right to end the threat.

Notes & quotes: DJ LeMahieu, making a rehab appearance at Double-A Somerset, went 1-for-2, legged out an infield single and played three innings at third . . . Tommy Kahnle (shoulder) will make a rehab appearance Sunday and could be activated next week.

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