Two outings ago, Jordan Montgomery lasted two-thirds of an inning against the Rays. Then he went 3 1/3 against the Blue Jays.
On Saturday, Montgomery continued his upward trend by pitching 5 2/3 innings and striking out a career-high nine in the Yankees’ 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Orioles.
Montgomery, who was charged with one unearned run, was pulled after 72 pitches in a 1-1 game.
He wasn’t happy about it, but manager Aaron Boone’s strategy worked. Chad Green, who had been struggling, threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings and three more Yankees relievers (Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Holder) followed with a scoreless frame each.
"Obviously, [the pitchers] were the story today," Boone said. "It was a really good bounce-back outing for Monty . . . Using all of his pitches effectively. A ton of strikeouts today. And then the pen came in and really pitched well."
Tense moment for Chapman
Boone didn’t want to answer directly when he repeatedly was asked why he went to the mound to check on Chapman during the ninth inning. Was the closer injured?
"He’s OK," Boone kept saying.
Finally, Boone said: "Mother nature calls sometimes."
Boone meant "nature calls sometimes," but you get the picture. Chapman finished a 1-2-3 inning without incident.
Gio Urshela, who has been out with a bone spur in his elbow, is expected to be activated from the injured list on Tuesday, Boone said.
Urshela took batting practice and fielded grounders at third base at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. He is expected to travel to the Yankees’ alternate site in Moosic, Pennsylvania, and have two days of activity there. The Yankees are off on Monday.
The Yankees also hope to get Aaron Judge (calf) and Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) back by next weekend, which would make their everyday lineup whole again.
"Those are some big names and impact players we’re talking about, obviously," Boone said. "So there is some excitement that knowing there’s a chance those guys are going to be back real soon. That’s exciting. In the meantime, just excited to see us get it rolling a little bit again, starting to play better baseball, but there’s no question those guys that you’re talking about, that they’re close definitely puts a smile on your face."
Bernie plays two
Former Yankees centerfielder Bernie Williams remotely played the national anthem before the game and "God Bless America" on his guitar during the seventh-inning stretch.
On Twitter, Williams posted: "I truly wish I was performing at a packed Yankee stadium in front of the greatest fans in the [world]."