Credit: Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports
“But I like it, I love it, I want some more of it…”
He didn’t get the win, gave up a home run to a journeyman infielder, and didn’t last the length of an official game, but Jordan Montgomery has earned my respect and I am looking forward to his next start.
Montgomery was rudely introduced to the Major Leagues by Tampa’s Rickie Weeks Jr, who hit a homer with two outs and one on in the top of the first inning. It was a moment that could have sent any young pitcher (or Micheal Pineda) into a tailspin. Instead, he induced Corey Dickerson into a ground out and it was inning over. He did get into a little trouble in the third when he allowed a single to Peter Bourjos and hit Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch with just one out, however, he proceeded to strike out the next two batters to end the threat.
In the fourth inning, Steven Souza Jr doubled to start the inning. What’s with all these Jr’s in the Rays lineup? Maybe I should just call myself Fid Jr. Sorry, I digress. Back to the topic at hand, Montgomery struck out the next two batters (Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria). At that point, he was pulled in favor of Bryan Mitchell. Souza Jr subsequently scored on a fielding error by Starlin Castro so the run wasn’t charged against Montgomery.
The line reads 4 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts, but it doesn’t tell the story how Montgomery got tougher when the stakes were raised. He was resilient and did not allow bad plays to influence his game. Like Mariano Rivera, he had a short memory and was not intimidated by any of the Rays hitters, including slugger Evan Longoria. Some guys may not profile as top of the line aces but they are just winners. That’s what Montgomery is to me. He seems like he can be a guy you want to hand the ball to in a pressure situation. We need a few more of those.
I thought it was great that the Yankees started Montgomery’s minor league catcher, Kyle Higashioka. I am sure that helped with the transition to Yankee Stadium. Higashioka didn’t do much with the bat, but that wasn’t why he was so important to the game. Bravo to Montgomery for his first start and congrats to Higashioka for calling it. I think Jordan will be even stronger the next time out. The Yankees decision to promote Montgomery has been validated.
For the game, the Yankees did win. With the 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, they’ve won two of two out of a three game set. The series concludes today. At the beginning of the week, I was hopeful for two out of three. Sorry, but now I want a sweep. A 5-4 record would be so much better than 1-4 or in this case, 4-5. Aaron Judge was 2-for-3 with yet another home run (his third in consecutive games). But his single was the talk of the game. The exit velocity of the ball was 116.5 MPH, the fastest base hit of 2017. Is there any doubt Manager Joe Girardi made the right decision when he picked Judge over Aaron Hicks to start in right field? All of us have known that Judge has the potential to be a monster. He’s showing us the evidence.
On the downside, Brett Gardner was injured in a collision at first base with Rickie Weeks Jr. Not sure if the collision is a product of Weeks’ inexperience at first, but Gardner will be out for a few days with a bruised jaw and strained neck. Aaron Weeks, who had completed a three game streak of starting in right, center, left figures to get a few more starts until Gardner returns. In the interim, it pushes Jacoby Ellsbury to the top of the lineup as the leadoff hitter. Ugh. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery to good health for Gardy.
Credit: Julie Jacobson/Associated Press
Pitcher James Kaprielian has met with Dr Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles but no word has been released regarding Kaprielian’s decision. I am sure this is a very difficult decision for the young hurler. While I hope for the best result to get him back on the field again, what’s best for Kaprielian takes precedence over what’s best for the Yankees. So, whatever decision Kaprielian makes, I will support and accept.
Regarding the 40-man roster, the loser of the seat at the table is pitcher Johnny Barbato. While I was worried that Robert Refsnyder might be the player DFA’d, I did feel that it was most likely one of the lesser known pitchers. I think in my mind, Barbato is the pitcher I thought of first. Since being acquired from the San Diego Padres for reliever Shawn Kelley (now a vital part of the Washington Nationals’ bullpen), Barbato has not done anything at the Major League level. His brief appearances have not been memorable and I was surprised over the winter when the Yankees left some quality guys off the 40-man roster to protect Barbato. I assumed the Yankees saw something in the pitcher that I haven’t seen. With the number of quality arms in the organization, I have no problem with losing Barbato. Hopefully, GM Brian Cashman will be able to flip him for something of value as he’d probably be claimed off waivers by another team.
With Montgomery’s strong start, I am hopeful that Luis Severino answers the bell today against the Rays. After last year’s 0-8 record in starting assignments, I didn’t want to go into this year with Severino chasing wins again. He failed his first attempt last week but today represents redemption. I hopeful that he drops a “W” in his win-loss record so that we can get that bad boy out of the way and move into friendly debates about which young pitcher is better.
We’ll have a Bird in the lineup today so there’s no reason we can’t fly! Go Yankees, and have a great Thursday!