For most of Tuesday night’s game, it appeared as if the Yankees would pick up a nice little victory. Jordan Montgomery tossed a gem, and the offense chipped in a couple of runs. That sounds like a pretty good combination, doesn’t it? Unfortunately the bullpen wilted and the Royals rallied to win by the score of 6 - 2.
Montgomery deserved better than this; he pitched a great game. The rookie southpaw held the Royals to one hit through six innings. The only damage came in the form of a seventh inning solo home run by Lorenzo Cain. Prior to that, he had been close to lights out.
Compared to his last start, Montgomery tightened up his command - he didn’t walk a batter - and found a strikeout pitch. He rung up six batters. Montgomery’s 6.2 innings of one-run ball lowered his season ERA to 4.30 (3.82 FIP). His outing should stifle critics who called for moving the left-hander to the bullpen.
Unfortunately, the Yankees didn’t have much time to celebrate Montgomery’s start. Joe Girardi turned to Adam Warren with two outs in the seventh, holding on to a one-run lead. Naturally, he allowed a single to Salvador Perez. That brought up Jorge Bonifacio who launched a two-run home run on the first pitch of his at-bat. Warren left a belt-high fastball over the plate and it got crushed.
That’s not a great pitch, Warren! The Yankees bullpen has been quite good this season. Mistakes happen. Unfortunately it let the air out of an otherwise terrific start by Montgomery. It also cost the Yankees the lead, making it 3 - 2 in favor of Kansas City.
The Royals weren’t done yet, however. The middle relief corp had more damage to inflict. Jonathan Holder took over in the eighth inning and instantly served up a solo home run to Whit Merrifield. Chasen Shreve then came on to give up a two-run shot to Mike Moustakas. In the span of two innings the Royals came all the way back to lead 6 - 2. The bullpen turned a strong outing into a home run derby. Yuck.
If you want to look at the bright side, the Yankees finally hit Danny Duffy. Last Thursday, the Yankees couldn’t muster any offense against the Royals southpaw. For the first three innings on Tuesday, it looked like a repeat performance. Save for a Starlin Castro walk in the second inning, Duffy mowed through the first turn of the Yankees lineup. He didn’t have the strikeouts working like last week, but he generated plenty of weak contact.
At least, he did until the fourth inning. That’s when Aaron Hicks launched a solo shot to the right field, giving the Yankees a 1 - 0 lead. It was a Yankee Stadium special, but a homer nonetheless. That was Hicks’ eight home run of the season. For comparison’s sake, he hit eight across the entire 2016 campaign. The Other Aaron is having a great season, and tonight’s game just adds to the ledger.
The home run ball bit Duffy again in the fifth inning. This time Chris Carter was the culprit. He turned on a hanging slider and planted it into the left field seats. Whereas Hicks took advantage of the short porch, Carter crushed the ball. It was a no-doubter and gave the Yankees a 2 - 0 lead. Following the home run, Duffy loaded the bases with two outs. Castro came to the plate and smacked a fly ball to left field that sounded good, but Jorge Bonifacio lured it in.
Sadly there was no grand slam for Castro tonight. There was also no other offense from the Yankees. The Bombers threatened in the bottom of the eight against Joakim Soria, but they couldn’t capitalize. In the ninth inning Carter drew a one-out walk but was erased on a game-ending Jacoby Ellsbury double play. He avoided the tag but was ruled out by leaving the basepath. Girardi didn’t like the call and let the umpires know. At least that was a little interesting.
Game three of the four game set features Luis Severino against Jason Hammel. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM. Let’s hope that it turns out better than tonight’s meltdown.