It would’ve been hard to script a more straightforward storyline for tonight’s contest. Jordan Montgomery, just five days removed from his surprising trade to St. Louis, would not only take the mound against his former team, but against Domingo Germán, the man ostensibly tasked with holding Montgomery’s former rotation spot in the Bronx. Immediately, the Yankees’ decision to trust Germán, and their pitching depth more broadly, would be tested.
Montgomery himself offered an interesting matchup for the Yankees. Relying on guile, command, and deception rather than overpowering stuff to turn over lineups, Montgomery would seem to have his hands full with a Yankee lineup that has long taken pleasure in grinding opponents and spitting on pitches off the black. To make matters worse for the lefty, the Yankees are of course intimately aware of all his tricks, his sleight of hand.
The first inning, then, looked as if it was going to plan for the Bombers. While Montgomery retired DJ LeMahieu leading off, LeMahieu saw seven pitches and got in a couple good swings. Aaron Judge grounded a hard single, and Josh Donaldson worked a walk off Montgomery. Gleyber Torres then pushed the count full, putting Montgomery in a perilous position right off the bat.
But Montgomery escaped when Torres hit one hard but right at Paul DeJong, who started a 6-4-3 double play. The Cardinals took the opportunity to seize an early lead in the home half, getting right to work creating solid contact off Germán. Paul Goldschmidt doubled, and Nolan Arenado singled him home to put St. Louis ahead 1-0.
The Cardinals stayed hitting the ball hard against Germán, with the right-hander continuing to look pretty hittable in his fourth start of the year. He was able to dance through the Cardinals lineup, however, thanks in part to an excellent relay on another Goldschmidt double to cut down Nolan Gorman in the third:
At no point did Germán ever really look in control, and the Cardinals consistently were able to produce quality swings against his pitches. To his credit, Germán at least pounded the zone, and didn’t walk a batter through five innings. Thanks in part to some good fortune on batted balls, Germán survived five fine innings, allowing just the lone run while striking out three.
While the Cards were persistent in producing quality contact against Germán, the Yankees were not as consistent in working Montgomery. After slipping out of the first-inning jam, Montgomery settled in and turned in one of the many starts he submitted in pinstripes: solid, unspectacular, on the shorter side, but ultimately effective. Monty departed with a smile on his face after five shutout innings, striking out just one but rarely finding himself in trouble, having done enough to earn a win against his former teammates.
The Yankees had little success once Montgomery departed, with Jordan Hicks and Genesis Cabrera navigating the sixth and seventh innings without much issue. There was a hint of a rally in the eighth, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa drawing a leadoff walk, and Kyle Higashioka lining one to right with one out:
NOOOOOOT is that DUUUUUUUDE pic.twitter.com/E1oOKokNfa— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 7, 2022
Lars Nootbar’s outstanding play neutered the rally before it really got started. That catch changed the complexion of the game’s late stages; rather than two runners on and one down with LeMahieu and Judge lined up, the Yankees had runner on first and two out, and LeMahieu grounded out to end the inning.
After putting Montgomery in a tough spot in the first, the Yankees simply didn’t mount anything resembling a threat. That differentiated this game from Friday night’s loss. While the series opener was frustrating, the worst part was that the Yankees lost while looking like the better team, constantly putting the Cardinals on the ropes, and only falling behind because of a failure to get that one key hit. Tonight, the Yankees didn’t even put themselves into a position to get that big hit. There was no spark, and no chance of a big inning, or even a small inning, to get in front.
The listless offensive effort wasted what was a strong overall night of run prevention. Ron Marinaccio, Lou Trivino, and Aroldis Chapman provided near-flawless relief work of Germán, and kept the Yankees in the game. Unfortunately, the one run Germán surrendered was more than the pitching staff’s margin for error tonight.
Former Yankee Giovanny Gallegos closed things out in the ninth, and the Yankees lost 1-0, cinching the series loss heading into Sunday’s finale. They’ll send out prized trade deadline acquisition tomorrow in an effort salvage a game, with Frankie Montas set to square off with ageless wonder Adam Wainwright. With luck, the Yankee bats will show up now that Montgomery won’t be on the mound, pitching for either team.