New York Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. exited Game 4 of the American League Championship Series in the third inning with an apparent injury, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
The Yankees later announced that Cortes was dealing with a groin ailment, per ESPN's Joon Lee.
Cortes gave up a three-run game-tying home run to Astros rookie Jeremy Peña before being pulled by manager Aaron Boone. He was replaced by Wandy Peralta out of the bullpen.
It was clear Cortes was struggling before being removed. Boone and the team's athletic trainer came out to the mound to check on him, but he appeared to insist he was fine before giving up the home run to Peña.
According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, Cortes' four-seam fastball velocity dropped to 88 mph in the third inning, down from 92 mph in the first inning.
The removal of Cortes was a tough blow for the Yankees, who entered Sunday's game on the brink of elimination and needed a solid outing from one of their top starters to help force a Game 5 in Houston on Monday.
Cortes pitched two games in the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Guardians, allowing three runs on nine hits and striking out five in 10 innings.
The 27-year-old put together the best regular season of his career this year, going 12-4 in 28 starts. He posted a 2.44 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 163 strikeouts across 158.1 innings.
Cortes has three more years of arbitration eligibility before becoming an unrestricted free agent. He figures to be a key member of the Yankees' rotation for at least a few more seasons, regardless of the outcome of this series.