NEW YORK — With the Yankees' offense unable to break through against Oakland's left-hander Sean Manaea until the sixth inning on Sunday afternoon, it was up to New York's southpaw Jordan Montgomery to keep his team in the game.
Even after allowing a booming home run in the first, Montgomery did just that, buckling down for 5.1 strong frames of three-hit ball with six strikeouts.
Montgomery didn't factor into the decision, but his best performance in the month of June played a key role in New York's 2-1 victory, clinching a series victory over the Athletics.
As the case has been for many players donning pinstripes this season, Montgomery has battled through his fair share of ups and downs in 2021. The left-hander is only a month removed from a career performance against the White Sox, spinning seven shutout innings and striking out a career-high 11 batters. Even with that masterful performance, however, Montgomery entered play on Sunday afternoon with a 4.20 ERA over 13 starts. He was coming off a rocky outing against Toronto his last time out, permitting five runs to tie a season-high.
Matt Olson's 20th home run of the season—a tape-measure shot to center field in the top of the first—put the Athletics in the front. That ended up being the only run Oakland could push across
"You can live with that," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Olson's home run. "I just thought [Montgomery] used his pitches well. I thought he was really aggressive and in rhythm early in the game."
Montgomery had a few close calls—including a near three-run homer from Olson in the third that Clint Frazier hauled in with his back at the right-field wall—but kept putting up zeros. When he ran into trouble in the sixth, facing the top of the order for a third time, Boone pulled the plug, summoning Jonathan Loaisiga from the bullpen.
With two runners on, the reliever extinguished the rally as part of his 12th scoreless outing in a row in which he recorded at least four outs. Lucas Luetge and Aroldis Chapman nailed down the final six outs of the win.
Sunday marked Montgomery's fifth outing this season where he limited opponents to less than two runs. This time around, it was his changeup that kept opposing bats at bay.
The southpaw delivered 26 changeups, more than any other offering in his five-pitch arsenal. On 18 swings, Montgomery's changeup produced 11 whiffs.
Montgomery now has a 3.57 ERA in June, allowing nine earned runs over 22.2 innings. He hasn't been the most consistent hurler this year, but continues to show glimpses of greatness, providing some much-needed depth in New York's rotation.
"Jordan can pitch, man. He's a better pitcher today than he was at the start of the year" Boone said leading up to first pitch on Sunday. "Bottom line, when he's attacking the strike zone, he's formidable. He's been a big part of our rotation so far this year and will continue to be."
- Gio Urshela Brushes Off Injury Scare, Whacks Go-Ahead Homer Against Athletics
- Yankees Injury Notes: Voit Set to Return, O'Day to Start Rehab Assignment
- Aaron Judge Has 'No Interest' in Participating in This Year's Home Run Derby