Minor league baseball is all about development, so it mattered little that Tacoma Rainiers starter Mike Montgomery’s no-hit bid was broken up in the sixth inning Thursday night at chilly Cheney Stadium.
The 25-year-old former Kansas City first-round draft pick was not coming out for the seventh regardless of whether the no-hitter was still intact.
Thank predetermined pitch counts for that.
“If he was in the big leagues, he’s still pitching right now (late in the game),” manager Pat Listach said. “If he’s still getting outs, he’s still pitching.”
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Montgomery’s five strikeouts over six innings of one-hit ball helped Tacoma to a 3-0 Pacific Coast League win over Albuquerque. It’s the team’s first shutout since a 7-0 win over Sacramento on July 25, 2014.
All Montgomery focused on was having a long outing to save the bullpen. The six innings ties a season high for a Tacoma starter.
“I wanted to go deep into the game and pitch as long as I could,” Montgomery said. His no-hit bid ended on Brandon Barnes’ leadoff double to left to start the sixth — one of the Isotopes’ three hits. Montgomery, acquired in a March 31 trade with Tampa Bay for Erasmo Ramirez, exited after six innings and 87 pitches.
“At that point, I wanted to collect myself and get out of it,” Montgomery said about allowing Barnes’ hit. “I’ve been in situations (like this)a lot of times; you get a no-hitter going in and you change your approach. I wanted to stay within myself and it worked out.”
Montgomery is familiar with taking no-hitters deep into ballgames the past two seasons. Almost a year to the day at Triple-A Durham (April 26, 2014), he pitched 81/3 innings of no-hit ball before being pulled after 106 pitches (with the no-hitter still intact) and in 2013, also with Durham, he had a no-hitter going but was pulled after 72/3 when he gave up his first walk.
The long-standing sixth-inning scoring drought for the Rainiers (5-10) also ended when Chris Taylor’s solo home run, his second in four games, made the score 2-0. The sixth inning had been the only inning in the previous 14 games in which Tacoma failed to score.
Carlos Quentin was officially added to the roster Thursday — Leury Bonilla was sent to Double-A Jackson — and he was in the lineup at designated hitter. Quentin went 0 for 3.
The Rainiers conclude their homestand by wrapping up a four-game series with the Isotopes at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Tacoma sends RHP Jordan Pries (0-1, 9.20 ERA) against Albuquerque RHP Leuris Gomez (0-0, 6.35). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.