Game 4: Stanton and Montgomery make things look easy

Giancarlo Stanton’s reaction to hitting a no doubt grand slam in the fifth inning.

There’s nothing like having the Baltimore Orioles come to town in order to right the offensive ship. Yankees hitters have tormented Baltimore pitching over the years, and tonight was no different. After a little bit of a slow start to this one, the offense reached base fourteen times. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton delivered their first home runs of the season, too.

Another familiar refrain: a great pitching performance, namely from starter Jordan Montgomery. He tossed six shutout frames in his first start of the year. As a whole, the team’s staff has allowed just nine runs in the first four games of the season. That’ll do.

With the 7-0 victory, the Yankees move back to .500 early in the season. Let’s get to the takeaways after the jump:

As we we’ve been saying: the offense was always going to be just fine.

At first, tonight’s game felt like more of the same. Baltimore’s starter Jorge López held down the Yankees through the first three innings, including a stretch of eight straight Bombers retired. The at-bats weren’t particularly competitive. But sometimes, all you need is some good luck to get things moving in the right direction. As such, the Yanks finally broke through in the fourth inning on this Yankee Stadium special:

That Aaron Judge solo shot would have been a home run in just two other ballparks: Seattle and Houston. Some much needed good fortune, indeed.

Judge’s homer notwithstanding, the lineup didn’t really fire on all cylinders until the third time through the order. In fact, Judge was the only Yankee to put a dent into López’s line through his homer in the fourth. He had also singled in the first inning.

The big blow came in the fifth inning, and my goodness, was it glorious. The Yanks knocked out López, loaded the bases, and plated a second run via an Aaron Hicks walk. Then, O’s reliever Shawn Armstrong decided to throw a fastball to Giancarlo Stanton in this location:

Unsurprisingly, this happened:

Anything less than 115 MPH off the bat and a 471 foot distance would have been a miracle for Armstrong with that location.

Folks, this is why we’ve been saying not to worry about the Yankees lineup. It is ridiculously deep. It is relentless. There will be some swoons here and there — that always happens with any team — but for the most part, this lineup is going to bludgeon opposing pitchers.

Jordan Montgomery continues the Yankees’ run of good pitching.

As mentioned at the outset, the Yanks’ pitching has been consistently good out of the gate this season. Tonight’s starter Jordan Montgomery wasn’t about to break the mold. And while Stanton’s grand slam was undeniably the moment of the game, Montgomery was easily today’s player of the game. The lefty had everything working right from the start and finished this one with six shutout innings and seven strikeouts.

Monty needed just 73 pitches to complete his day of work, though he could have gone longer. The long layoff between innings during the Yankees mid-game run scoring, along with the big cushion, made it easy to pull the plug a little early and save some bullets.

The lefty’s entire arsenal was effective tonight, but his changeup and curveball were his most impressive pitches. He went to either of those two offerings for 39 of his 73 pitches and garnered 13 whiffs on 31 swings (41.9 percent). I don’t care that this was against a meager Orioles lineup, either. If Montgomery locates those pitches like he did tonight, anyone will have a hard time squaring him up. Take a look:

That’s a whole lot of paint. So aside from the whiffs, it’s no wonder that Baltimore hitters had a bunch of weak contact against the Yankees’ starter too. Montgomery had an average exit velocity against of 86.3 MPH tonight. For reference, that’s not far off from his 84.6 MPH mark last year which put him in the 95th percentile for exit velocity allowed.

Tonight’s performance is exactly why I’ve been optimistic about Montgomery dating back to last season. He’s become a soft contact extraordinaire, has honed his control (zero walks tonight, by the way), and is capable of missing bats. Granted, it’s just one start, but you have to like what you saw out of Monty tonight.

Leftovers
  • The Yankees signed LHP Mike Montgomery to a minor league deal. Expect to see him at the Alternate Site soon. He has a 3.84 ERA and 4.34 FIP in 541 career innings, but he hasn’t been very good since 2018. Regardless, he’s worth a flyer. He was with the Mets in spring training.
  • Luis Cessa tossed two shutout innings in relief. Aroldis Chapman followed with a scoreless ninth. And yes, Chapman mixed in a nasty splitter.
  • Scary play for Gary Sánchez early in this one. Somehow he was charged an error for this, but at least he’s OK:
  • Aaron Hicks took early batting practice today. I’d say that he looked a little more comfortable at the plate tonight. He drew a walk and lined out to fairly deep left in this one, while also not striking out. Baltimore also clearly pitched around Judge to get to Hicks in the fifth inning, which wasn’t surprising. It backfired it a big way, but that goes to show how much they preferred to face Hicks even if it meant loading the bases.
  • Mike Tauchman replaced Judge in the seventh inning on defense. There’s nothing wrong with Judge. This game was in hand and considering that the starting right fielder was under the weather last week, a little extra rest helps.

Same time, same place tomorrow. Gerrit Cole makes his second start of the season and will face Dean Kremer. Have a good night everyone.

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3 Comments

  1. fat sancho can rake

    Monty is starting to look an awful lot like Pettitte,.and that’s a good thing.

  2. Gerreddardit Cole

    Well not even Boone could screw this one up, Derek. He almost did putting Hicksy in the 3 hole. He’s not a #3 hitter. The #3 should be your best pure hitter. Hicks got a lucky walk otherwise Stanton doesn’t hit the salami. Just put Judge and Stanton back to back. That would put the most pressure on pitchers. No manager is saying oh Hicks is a tough out in between those two big guys. They’re saying thanks for the easy out.

    Monty picked up right where he left off. To me he’s our #2 starter. He reminds me a lot of Andy. Chappy finally added a 3rd pitch. Let’s hope he actually throws it in the postseason.

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