Jordan Montgomery has had the best season of any Yankees starter not named Gerrit Cole.
And, taking the season as a whole, the lefthander actually has had the more consistent year of the two.
That continued Tuesday night as Montgomery again put his team in position to win, holding down the Rangers over 5 2/3 innings of a 7-1 victory in front of 23,335 at the Stadium.
The victory was critical — as they all are at this point — for the Yankees (85-67), who remained two games behind the Red Sox for the first American League wild-card spot and a half-game behind the Blue Jays for the second spot.
The Yankees got solo home runs from Giancarlo Stanton (No. 31) and Joey Gallo (No. 38) and a three-run shot from Aaron Judge (No. 36) on a night they welcomed a former ace, Luis Severino, back to the mound. Judge’s 415-foot blast to right-center in the seventh blew it open at 7-1.
"It’s one of the best in the game," Judge said of the lineup when he, Stanton and Gallo are flexing their muscles. "It just shows what this team can do."
Montgomery improved to 6-6 with a 3.55 ERA after allowing one run, four hits and a walk. He entered the day having allowed three or fewer earned runs in 22 of his 27 starts but having received three or fewer runs of support in 22 of those 27 starts. That's the reason for his unimpressive record, the only unimpressive aspect of his season.
"He's kind of established himself as a really good pitcher in this league," manager Aaron Boone said. "And he's confident, too. He knows he can go out and, when he's on his game, he's capable of holding down any offense."
Montgomery struck out six, aided on this night by his changeup in particular.
"It was huge," he said of the pitch. "I feel like they were kind of looking for my curveball a little bit, which it’s nice having changeup and curveball and kind of feel which one’s better that day and then go with it. That's a pitch I've thrown my whole life and I'm pretty comfortable throwing it whenever."
Michael King struck out three, including the side on 10 pitches (all looking) in the seventh, in 1 1/3 innings. Severino, appearing in a big-league game for the first time since October 15, 2019, because of the Tommy John surgery he underwent in February 2020 and subsequent groin and shoulder issues, finished up with two scoreless innings.He allowed two hits, struck out two and threw 30 pitches.
"It was pretty special having him back," Judge said. "He’s a big part of this organization."
Stanton, whose first-inning groundout gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead, tacked on all by himself with two outs in the third. His 415-foot laser shot to left, which departed his bat barrel at 118.5 mph, made it 2-0 and gave him 11 homers and 24 RBIs in his last 27 games.
The Rangers (55-96) cut their deficit in half in the fourth on an RBI groundout by former Yankees farmhand Nick Solak. But that would be all as Montgomery made it eight of his last 10 starts in which he allowed one earned run or fewer.
Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo opened the fifth with singles to make it 3-1. Gallo led off the sixth against his former team with a towering home run into the second deck in rightfield for his 13th homer as a Yankee. In the last 10 games in which he has had an at-bat, he has hit seven home runs.
"For us, every game is a big game, and any time you can shake hands at the end of the day, there’s some excitement in that," Boone said. "But also tempered with, we’ve got to move on quickly and get ready for another big one tomorrow. Because tomorrow is going to be bigger than today."