It was a full-team effort on Tuesday night, as every batter except for Aaron Judge had at least one hit, the defense flashed the leather all over the field, and Jordan Montgomery shut down two of the best players in baseball. Backed by the all-around success, the New York Yankees took the first game of this three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels, 9-1, to give their starter his first win of the season.
In many ways, the first inning tells the story of the game in miniature. On the first pitch of the game, Taylor Ward popped the ball up into foul territory in right field; Joey Gallo covered a lot of ground and made a basket catch on the run to retire the hot-hitting right fielder. Four pitches later, Shohei Ohtani drilled a 1-2 fastball at 107 mph, a sure-to-be home run over the left-center-field wall. Fortunately for the Yankees, a 6-foot-7 giant was patrolling center field, and he simply reached over the wall and turned it into a really long, really loud out.
Montgomery then fanned the next batter, Mike Trout, on four pitches, to set the top of the Angels’ lineup down in order.
The bottom of the first was similarly enjoyable for Yankees fans. Following DJ LeMahieu’s grounder to second for the first out of the inning, the next five batters reached base safely. First, Judge reached on a four-pitch walk. With the big guy running on the play, Anthony Rizzo doubled into the right-center-field gap over the leaping try of Trout, allowing Judge to score all the way from first on the play, giving the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead. Gleyber Torres — who has been on fire at the plate lately, coming into the night with an OPS of exactly 1.000 over the last seven games — then brought Rizzo around to score on a double off the wall in left-center field; it was originally ruled a triple, but the Angels successfully challenged that his momentum carried him off the bag, and he was ruled out.
Torres’ teammates, however, immediately picked him up. Miguel Andújar looped a single into center field that had everybody saying, “If only Gleyber hadn’t overslid the bag.” Matt Carpenter, coming to plate for the first time in the home pinstripes, cured that longing by nailing his second home run of the season, a 93.3-mph not-quite porch job that went 356 feet and had an xBA of just .150.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded out to third to end the inning, but the damage was already done, and the Yankees had a quick 4-0 lead.
After Montgomery faced the minimum in the top of the second, the lineup went right back to work in the bottom of the second. Gallo got the ball rolling with a one-out single to left field, coming all the way around to score from first when LeMahieu drilled a double of his own to left.
Torres continued his big day by leading off the bottom of the third with a single, and then he continued his night of awful luck by appearing to injure his left shoulder getting thrown out attempting to steal second. Torres came up grabbing his shoulder after jamming it into Luis Rengifo’s left leg while sliding head-first into the second base bag. Thankfully, despite immediately disappearing down the tunnel to the locker room with the trainer, Torres came back out and played the rest of the game without a hitch; still, given the number of injuries that the Yankees have faced in recent weeks, it’s something to monitor over the next few days.
Although the Yankees threatened in the fourth, loading the bases with one out and Judge and Rizzo due up, they did not push any runs across again until the sixth, and once again, they did so after the leadoff hitter recorded an out. This time it was Jose Trevino who got things started with a one-out single, advancing to third when Gallo laced a double 102 mph off the bat into the right field corner; it was the outfielder’s first multi-hit game since May 13th against the White Sox. Then, LeMahieu scalded a groundball to second base. With Trevino running on contact, Rengifo threw the ball home. The throw beat the runner by half a mile, but through some Ichiro-like sorcery, Trevino managed to avoid the tag and score.
Gallo advanced to third on the play, and would himself score on a Judge sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 7-0.
As the offense grounded away at Noah Syndergaard and Kenny Rosenberg, Montgomery put it in cruise control against one of the American League’s toughest offenses. His final line is impressive enough — one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out four (including both Ohtani and Trout) and walking only one — but it really doesn’t quite do justice for his performance. The lefty never got into any trouble, allowing just one extra-base hit (a 7th-inning solo shot by Rengifo) and only facing one batter with a runner in scoring position throughout the entire inning.
Of course, part of what made the night so easy for Monty was that the defense behind him came to play. In addition to the two first-inning plays mentioned at the top of the recap, numerous other Yankees flashed the leather tonight. First, you had Trevino and Rizzo team up to catch Matt Duffy wandering too far from the first base bag to end the second inning.
In the fifth, Torres made a snazzy play, ranging far to his right and making an off-balance throw to nab Max Stassi at first for the second out of the inning.
And then in the sixth, IKF robbed Trout of an RBI single through the left side of the infield, diving to his right and throwing a strike to first base to end the inning and keep the shutout intact.
Miguel Castro came on in relief of Montgomery in the eighth, and he immediately set out to make every Yankees fan sweat for a reason other than the night’s blistering heat. Juan Lagares led off the inning with a double, and old friend and Bronx native Andrew Velazquez singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out and the top of the order due up. Castro, however, struck out Ward and induced soft fly outs to center field by both Ohtani and Trout to get out of his self-induced trouble.
Concerned about the bullpen’s tendency to make things interesting of late, the lineup took matters into their own hands in the bottom of the eighth. Kiner-Falefa led off the inning with a single. Trevino then capped off a big night with his third home run of the season, a 379-foot blast into the left field seats.
It was now 9-1 in favor of the Yankees, and while David McKay did his best to make it interesting by loading the bases in the top of the ninth, in the end, that is where the score would stand.
Montgomery finally notches his first win of the season, right in time for the month of May to end (in a just world, it would’ve happened long ago), while Syndergaard gets tagged with the loss. With the victory, the Yankees improve to a whopping 34-15, a full 19 games above .500. They look to bring that back up to an even 20 tomorrow night, as Nestor Cortes takes on Reid Detmers, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm ET.