CHICAGO — Jordan Montgomery and run support don’t mix very well together, especially this season. In six starts for Montgomery over 31 innings pitched entering Saturday, the Yankees’ offense has supplied the left-hander with just eight runs.
“We’ll score,” manager Aaron Boone said after another outing from Montgomery with no run support.
Montgomery’s start on Saturday wasn’t his best this season after going just 4 1/3 innings and allowing six hits, two runs and a season-high three walks — his shortest start since April 10 against the Red Sox when he went 3 1/3.
“I didn’t have much to work with today,” Montgomery said. “I just felt like my timing was different every inning and never really got comfortable. I couldn’t really attack like I wanted to but I gave it all I had.”
With that lack of run support and his pitching line, it pushed the team to 2-5 in his starts.
But the 29-year-old has pitched far better than the record implies. In his first seven starts, Montgomery hasn’t allowed more than three runs and six hits in any outing. He also owns a 3.06 ERA, which has boosted the Yankees’ rotation this season.
Along with Gerrit Cole’s 2.95 ERA and Nestor Cortes’ 1.47, the Yankees’ team ERA stands at 2.80 — best in the Majors.
Montgomery’s 2022 campaign has been better than expected — using his pitch arsenal efficiently. His mix against the White Sox (sinker, changeup, fastball and curveball) was as even as it can get — his sinker at 29% was the most and curveball at 21% was the least.
But his most surprising pitch was the fastball, which he threw 21 times. Over his last three starts, he only threw the four-seamer 19 times.
“So far this season, my fastball has been really good when I’m controlling the inside and outside,” the left-hander said. “[I was] trying to establish inside, so they couldn’t look down and away from off-speed pitches.”
Montgomery’s night wasn’t how he planned. He struggled to control the zone, with a 60.4 strike percentage — his lowest this season.
“This is a really good lineup, some really talented hitters, too,” Montgomery said. “When you fall behind, it’s only making your life harder.”
This outing wasn’t ideal for the left-hander, but he showed his ability to mix in a variety of different pitches in 2022 — something that he hopes to continue to do to throw off hitters. Even more importantly, on a night when he struggled commanding the zone and couldn’t get comfortable on the mound, he still gave the team a chance to win.
“He gave us a chance on a night that wasn’t perfect for him,” Boone said. “Two runs into the fifth on a night when [it’s] a struggle for him. But he made pitches when he needed to.”
And they had the opportunity.
With an RBI single by Giancarlo Stanton in the eighth inning and a sacrifice fly in the ninth by Kyle Higashioka, the Yankees stormed back to tie it.
But Aroldis Chapman didn’t have his stuff in the ninth inning to extend the game. The flamethrowing left-hander has struggled with walks this season and in Saturday’s biggest moment, he walked Yoán Moncada to put Tim Anderson in scoring position.
Although Chapman threw over to first base while Anderson was there several times during Moncada’s at-bat, this didn’t distract the lefty.
“I didn’t think he was on nerve,” Boone said. “I actually thought he was very much in control of the situation.”
Added Chapman through an interpreter: “Not a distraction but you do understand that he’s a fast runner. He’s aggressive on the bases, so you have to do your job to keep him close and be able to execute pitches.”
The walks continue to pile up for Chapman as he issued his ninth this season. This one came back to haunt him for the first time this season — resulting in a game-winning hit by Luis Robert, the very next batter.
“There was one game where I had three,” Chapman said. “But overall, I’ve issued one a game here and there. I wouldn’t say it’s a distraction or something that’s in my mind when I go in the game. I’m just focused on doing my job and executing the right pitch.”