Jordan Montgomery said starting ALDS Game 4 with the Yankees’ season on the line was the kind of opportunity he had been waiting for since he had Tommy John surgery in 2018.
Consider it worth the wait.
With the Yankees facing elimination in the best-of-five series, Montgomery allowed one run in four innings in his first postseason start and first outing since Sept. 24 as the Yankees won Game 4, 5-1, over the Rays on Thursday night at Petco Park in San Diego.
Since he didn’t go five innings, Montgomery didn’t qualify for the win. That went to reliever Chad Green, who threw a scoreless fifth and sixth and combined with Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman to throw five shutout innings.
But the Yankees wouldn’t be handing the ball to Gerrit Cole for Friday’s deciding Game 5 without Montgomery’s clutch effort.
"Great job of setting the tone for us," manager Aaron Boone said. "Giving us what we needed . . . Monty going out and giving us four strong was huge."
Montgomery, who went 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 10 regular-season starts, allowed three hits, walked three and struck out four. He threw 62 pitches as his big-game wish came true.
"I would have loved for 30,000 fans to be in the stands," Montgomery said. "But definitely with the season being on the line, this team’s got more fight. It definitely lived up to it."
Montgomery’s biggest moments came in the third inning after the Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on Luke Voit’s solo home run and DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly.
Montgomery walked Willy Adames to open the inning before Kevin Kiermaier hit a ground-rule double to put the tying runs in scoring position.
Montgomery struck out Mike Zunino on a 3-and-2 changeup in an at-bat that started 0-and-2 and then included three consecutive blocks of balls in the dirt by Kyle Higashioka, who once again started over Gary Sanchez.
Montgomery walked Yandy Diaz to load the bases. Brandon Lowe followed with a grounder to the right of a shifted LeMahieu, who dove to get it and was able to get a forceout at second as a run scored to make it 2-1.
With Green ready in the bullpen, Boone stayed with Montgomery against Randy Arozarena, the righthanded batter who was hitting .600 with three home runs in the series coming into the game. Montgomery got Arozarena to bounce out to third to maintain the Yankees’ one-run lead.
In the fourth, with Adam Ottavino warming, Montgomery worked around a leadoff single and two-out walk by getting Kiermaier to ground out to first.