Bullpen blows Montgomery’s gem, Yankees fall 6-2 to Royals

Blah, that was a crummy game. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead into the seventh Tuesday night and the bullpen turned it into a 6-2 loss to Royals. Annoying loss is annoying.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Full Monty
All things considered, this was the best start of Jordan Montgomery‘s young big league career. He held the Royals to one run on two hits and no walks in 6.2 innings, and the run came on Lorenzo Cain’s one-out homer in the seventh. Montgomery retired 12 straight batters prior to the Cain homer and 19 of the 20 first batters he faced. He was in total control.

Making Montgomery’s start more impressive is the fact he faced the Royals for the second time in a week. They touched him up for five runs in five innings last week. The Royals are the first team to face Montgomery twice in his MLB career, and they did it in the span of a week. He made the adjustment and got the free-swinging Royals to hit what seemed to be a never-ending string of popups. Three ground outs and eleven air outs, but only one or two of the fly balls were well struck. The Royals were off balance all night.

I thought Joe Girardi pulled Montgomery at exactly the right time. His pitch count was approaching 100 — he finished at 98 pitches, to be exact — and the last right-handed batter he faced (Cain) hit the ball a mile. Girardi stuck with Montgomery to get the left-on-left matchup against Eric Hosmer, who hit a line drive right at Starlin Castro at second base. The Royals were starting to make better contact and another righty with power (Salvador Perez) was due up when Girardi yanked his starter. Nice start for Montgomery. His best in pinstripes so far.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Bullpen Melts Down
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning thanks to solo home runs by Aaron Hicks (fourth inning) and Chris Carter (fifth), both against Danny Duffy. Hicks homered into the right field short porch as a right-handed hitter. It was the first opposite field homer of his career as a righty. Carter pulled a long fly ball into the left field seats for the 2-0 lead. Back-to-back days with a dinger for the rhino.

The bullpen meltdown started immediately after Montgomery left the game. Adam Warren entered, gave up a little flare single to Perez just beyond the reach of Castro, then he caught way too much of the plate with a fastball …

adam-warren-jorge-bonifacio

… that Jorge Bonifacio drove into the short porch for a go-ahead two-run homer. In the span of four batters, the Yankees went from leading 2-0 to trailing 3-2. That’s pretty annoying. It’s easy to say Girardi should have left Montgomery in give how things played out, but I was fine with pulling him. Warren can’t be missing middle-middle like that.

Down a run with three offensive innings to go is manageable. Not great, but the game was far from over, especially in Yankee Stadium. Then Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve put the game out of reach in the eighth. Holder gave up a solo homer to Whit Merrifield and Shreve gave up a two-run shot to Mike Moustakas. Four homers in the span of eight batters to the worst offensive team in baseball. Oy vey.

The bullpen has been really good overall this season and meltdowns happen. What can you do? They were bound to screw up one of these days. The bigger problem is the recent lack of offense. The Yankees have scored nine runs total in their last three games and they haven’t scored a run on something other than a home run since the second inning of Sunday’s game. That was 24 innings ago. They’ll snap out of eventually, hopefully soon, but that doesn’t make me feel any better right now.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Leftovers
The Yankees did put a dozen runners on base (eight hits, four walks), though going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position equals two runs on solo homers. Castro flew out loudly to end the fifth inning with the bases loaded, which was the biggest missed opportunity. Duffy is really good! It’s not like they were facing some crummy fifth starter. But still, the recent lack of runs is annoying.

Jacoby Ellsbury saw 12 pitches in five plate appearances as the leadoff man, which isn’t good. I mean, no one would care if he saw five pitches in five at-bats if he had five hits, but generally speaking you’d like your leadoff hitter to work the count a little more than that, you know? The difference between Brett Gardner and Ellsbury atop the lineup is noticeable.

Matt Holliday was the only Yankees with multiple hits. He had two singles. Hicks (homer, walk), Castro (single, walk), Carter (homer, walk), and Aaron Judge (single, walk) all reached base multiple times too. Every starter reached base at least once except for Didi Gregorius and Austin Romine.

And finally, the bullpen came into this game having allowed five home runs in 141.1 innings total this season. They then allowed three in the span of six batters. Baseball can be so stupid sometimes.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go over to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Wednesday night, in the third game of this four-game series. Luis Severino and Jason Hammel are the scheduled starting pitchers. Make sure you check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game, or any of the other four games remaining on the homestand live and in person.

Game 43: A Big Test for Montgomery

(Jamie Squire/Getty)
(Jamie Squire/Getty)

Seven starts into his big league career, Jordan Montgomery has pitched like, well, most rookie pitches. Sometimes he looks great, sometimes he walks too many. That’s usually how it goes. Tonight will be a pretty big test for Montgomery even though the Royals are the worst offensive team in baseball. Kansas City will be the first team to see the big left-hander a second time, and they’ll see him twice in the span of a week.

Last week the Royals roughed Montgomery up for five runs in five innings, so it’s up to him to make the adjustment to find success, not the other way around. The Royals are free swingers — they lead baseball in chase rate (33.0%) and overall swing rate (49.6%), so yeah, they’ll take their hacks — and hopefully Montgomery will figure out how to use that to his advantage now that he’s seen them once already. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It has been cloudy and cool in New York all day today, and that will again be the case tonight. There’s no rain in the forecast though, and that’s the most important. Tonight’s game is set to begin a little after 7pm ET. YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) has increased the intensity of his running. He was supposed to hit off a tee and soft toss for the first time today. I have no reason to believe that didn’t happen.

HOPE Week: Today the Yankees held a track-and-field event to benefit the One Step Ahead Foundation, a non-profit organization “dedicated to giving children with physical disabilities positive experiences through sports to build confidence, courage, and friendship, increase self-esteem, and create a better sense of self-worth all while giving them a positive experience they will use throughout the rest of their lives.” Here are some photos.

Game 42: The Royals, Again

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees are playing the Royals, this time in New York rather than Kansas City. The Yankees took two of three from the 2015 World Series champions at Kauffman Stadium last week. Since that series, both teams have lost two of three on the road. The Yankees did so in Tampa Bay, the Royals in Minnesota.

Anyway, this is a pretty important homestand for the Yankees. Important probably isn’t the right word. It’s a good opportunity. That’s better. Seven games against the Royals and Athletics, two of the worst teams in baseball, is a great chance to pad the ol’ win-loss record a bit. One game at a time though. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Michael Pineda

It rained in New York much of the day, but the rain has stopped, and there’s none in the forecast the rest of the night. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) took dry swings today. It was his first time swinging a bat since being placed on the disabled list. Bird is scheduled to hit off a tee and soft toss tomorrow.

HOPE Week: Today was the first day of HOPE Week, one of the best weeks of the year. Several Yankees went to the Bronx Zoo to help benefit the Icla da Silva Foundation, which recruits bone marrow donors. Here are some photos.

Game 41: Sabathia Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So the last three games haven’t gone well. Sucks. The good news is there’s another game today, so there’s a chance to get back into the win column. A win today avoids the sweep and sends the Yankees home with a 3-3 road trip. Not great, not awful. Could be worse.

CC Sabathia is on the mound this afternoon and he was very good last time out, though that was against the free-swinging Royals, the worst hitting team in baseball this year. The Rays have some thump, annoyingly. This will be a tough one for Sabathia. I believe in the big man though. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s nice and sunny in St. Petersburg today, and dark and gloomy inside Tropicana Field. First time this series the teams probably wish they could play outside. Alas. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET. YES has the broadcast. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) will see a doctor tomorrow for a check up. He went on the disabled list last weekend, and the Yankees said he will be shut down at least two weeks, so a throwing program isn’t imminent … Greg Bird (ankle) continues to increase his running. He could beginning hitting this week.

Roster Update: The Yankees have called up Bryan Mitchell and sent down Gio Gallegos, the team announced. I had a feeling that was coming. They need a fresh long man. Mitchell was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, though he’s only gotten stretched out to 60 pitches or so since being sent down, so he won’t be able to go super long.

Game 40: Getting Tanaka Back On Track

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

For the first time since getting crushed by the Astros last weekend, Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound this afternoon, looking for a solution to his early season woes. There have been some flashes of 2016 Tanaka throughout the season so far, but flashes aren’t enough. The Yankees need him to pitch well pretty much every time out to stay in the AL East race.

Tanaka will have what is almost certainly the best possible lineup the Yankees could field behind him. We could quibble about the batting order and all that, but these nine names represent the best the Yankees have to offer right now. This is the A+ team, basically. Get a win today, then try to win the series tomorrow. Sounds like a plan. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. DH Aaron Judge
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy, hot, and humid in St. Petersburg and a cool 72-ish degrees inside Tropicana Field. This afternoon’s game will begin at 4:10pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Turns out Sanchez has a stiff neck, which is why the Yankees didn’t want to use him last night. Obviously he’s feeling better, because he’s in the lineup today. Sanchez took some foul tips to the face mask in Kansas City. I assume those contributed to his neck woes.

Game 39: Back to Tampa

Can't sleep, mascot will eat me. (Presswire)
Can’t sleep, mascot will eat me. (Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees are back in Tampa, their home away from home. Spring Training was extra long this year because of the World Baseball Classic, then the Yankees started the season with a three-game set at Tropicana Field. Now they’re back again for a three-game weekend series. They just can’t escape this place.

Well, anyway, it’s time to win another series. It would have been nice to finish off the sweep of the Royals last night, but what can you do? Sometimes you get beat. The Yankees and Rays have already seen enough of each other this season — this is their third series already — so they’re familiar with each other. Just win the series, baby. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Chris Carter
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

The internet tells me the weather in St. Petersburg is awful. Temperatures in the 90s with humidity north of 80%, and rain. Lots of rain. Good thing they’re playing indoors tonight. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET. You can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Coaching Staff Update: Joe Girardi is away from the Yankees to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. Bench coach Rob Thomson will manage tonight.

Game 38: A-Rod in the Booth

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the first time since his (forced) retirement, Alex Rodriguez will be in the broadcast booth tonight. The series finale between the Yankees and Royals will be on FOX Sports 1 tonight, not YES, and A-Rod will be doing color commentary alongside play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt. How cool is that? A-Rod was pretty great doing pregame and postgame analysis during the postseason the last two years. I’m looking forward to hearing him in the booth.

Anyway, on to more pressing matters. The Yankees are looking to complete the sweep of the Royals this evening, and because the Orioles lost earlier today, the Yankees can stretch their AL East lead to 2.5 games. Is it too early to look at the standings? Nah. The Yankees are in first place. Enjoy the hell out of it. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. LF Aaron Hicks
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is a bit cloudy in Kansas City tonight, though there’s no rain in the forecast. Thank goodness for that. Losing an off-day to go to back to Kansas City for a makeup game would stink. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:15pm ET, and as I mentioned earlier, the game will be on FOX Sports 1, not YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) did some light running today for the first time since being shut down. He didn’t travel with the team and is back in New York. The hope is Bird will be given the thumbs up to resume baseball activities early next week.