ST. LOUIS — Jordan Montgomery shed the pinstripes pretty quickly. Saturday night, the lefty who was emotional after the Bombers dealt him to the Cardinals, went out and shut down his former teammates. Just four days after he was sent to St. Louis, Montgomery pitched five scoreless as the Cardinals went on to shut out the Yankees 1-0 in front of 48,581, the largest crowd ever at Busch Stadium.
The Yankees (70-38) have lost four straight and dropped back-to-back series for the first time this season. It was the seventh series loss overall this season and with the Astros losing earlier in the day to the Guardians, the Bombers still hold the best record in the American League — but just barely. They remain atop the AL East by 10.5 games, but the Blue Jays are threatening to close the gap.
“We’re not excited about it, definitely but we’ve still got a great ballclub,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. “We can hang our hats on that and can’t be moping around here that we lost two series. The most important game is the next one we have coming up. So, just like I said, we got to stick to our approach, come out swinging like we do, and that’s all we can do. We lost the last two series. So what? Time to move on.”
It was just the seventh time this season the Yankees have been shut out. The last was July 3 in Cleveland. It was just the fifth time this season they lost when holding the opponent to two runs or less. Montgomery left after five innings, cramping in the hot humid St. Louis night. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out one.
Judge and Kyle Higashioka were the only two Yankees to get a hit off Montgomery.
“It was a little funky,” Judge said of seeing his former teammate on the mound. “Brought me back to all the years I’ve faced them in spring training at-bats, kind of getting ready for the season.
“But seeing him in red was a little different,” Judge said. “I’m excited for his opportunity over here. He’s gonna have some great years, definitely, for the Cardinals.”
In an awkward first inning, Montgomery gave up a one-out single to Judge and then walked Josh Donaldson. Nolan Arenado made a terrific stop on Gleyber Torres’ ground out to start an inning-ending double play.
The Yankees were without slugger Anthony Rizzo for the second straight game with “lower back tightness,” and have been without Giancarlo Stanton, who has been on the injured list since July 24. They are clearly missed as the Yankees have just four hits over their last 12 innings.
“I mean, that’s just part of it; good pitching and a couple guys not totally locked in right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So, it’s frustrating that we can’t break through. They’ve done a good job of keeping us in the ballpark and flashing some leather against us. And, tonight we just weren’t able to mount enough.”
Domingo German, in his fourth start of the season after dealing with shoulder impingement syndrome this spring, gave the Yankees every chance Saturday night.
“I thought it was the best version of Domingo we’ve seen since he’s come back,” Boone said. “So that was encouraging to see, because I thought a little bit early it was a little bit of a struggle. He had some balls go right at people. …. I feel like the last two plus innings was encouraging.”
German allowed one run on four hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three. Ron Marinaccio, who was optioned after the game to make room for Frankie Montas on the 26-man roster, struck out one, walked one in 0.2 innings pitched. Lou Trivino and Aroldis Chapman each pitched a scoreless inning.
A night after Clay Holmes blew a one-run lead, it was the offense that let the Yankees down Saturday night.
“We haven’t quite scored enough, haven’t quite pitched quite well enough and just lost some close games that were winning all the time,” Boone said. “So nobody’s happy about it. But we’re not going to panic or worry about it it’s you know, we got too big a game tomorrow.”