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Jordan Montgomery battles when not at his best in Yankees’ win

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery pitches against the Minnesota

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery pitches against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, April 26, 2018 . Credit: Jim McIsaac

Think Gary Sanchez had a big smile?

After Sanchez’s three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Yankees a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Thursday, the catcher’s grin was duplicated by starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery.

Sanchez’s homer extended the Yankees’ season-best winning streak to six and rescued Montgomery from taking his first loss of the season. “It was awesome,’’ the lefthander said.

Montgomery, who is 2-0 with a 3.76 earned run average, had the misfortune of opposing Twins righthander Kyle Gibson, who held the Yankees hitless until Brett Gardner’s single up the middle with two outs in the sixth.

Montgomery actually was admiring Gibson’s performance. “You definitely are [aware] when he’s through five,’’ he said. “It was a 1-2-3 inning a lot. I was watching him between every inning and he was just working quick and making a lot of good pitches. He gave our guys some trouble. Gardy broke it up, we rolled from there. I mean, it’s fun to watch. You don’t want that to happen to your team, but as a pitcher, it’s fun.’’

Montgomery lasted five innings and left with a 2-0 deficit after allowing Eduardo Escobar’s two-out, two-run homer into the Yankees’ bullpen in the third inning. It came on a 3-and-2 count after Montgomery walked Miguel Sano.

“It really wasn’t a mistake,’’ Montgomery said. “He had been fouling off my curveball. Full count and I kind of said, ‘I’m going to throw a heater down and away.’ He put a good swing on it. I was just being aggressive there and trying to get out of a long [at-bat] like that.’’

Montgomery walked three and reached 98 pitches in his outing. “I didn’t think his breaking ball was as good as we’ve seen it the last few times out,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “You know, got hurt a little bit with the fastball. You know, just lost command there . . . But did not really have it. I felt like to be able to battle through five innings and keep us in the game, frankly, two runs, five innings and he’s not at his best, so I actually thought it was a pretty courageous effort . . . He didn’t buckle.’’

Montgomery added, “It was just kinda one of those days, man. I settled in fourth and fifth. The first three innings were just kind of a constant battle. I’d get two outs, then lose it. Fastball command wasn’t where I wanted it to be the first three innings. Really, nothing commanded.’’

In five starts, Montgomery has allowed 25 hits and 12 walks in 26 1⁄3 innings, striking out 23. “As a starting pitcher,’’ he said, “what do they say? Out of five starts, you only have two good ones, two mediocre ones. So if that’s my bad one, then I’ll take it every day.’’

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