No third consecutive shutout for Seattle Mariners rookie Mike Montgomery, who admitted he lacked a “put-away pitch” Sunday in facing the Oakland Athletics.
Yep … Monty gave up a run before the bullpen nursed a 2-1 lead over the closing innings into a victory at the O.co Coliseum.
“I just thought my pitches weren’t quite as sharp,” Montgomery said. “Especially my off-speed. But I just wanted to find a way to get the job done. I made some good pitches when I had to.”
Think about that a moment …
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Montgomery wasn’t at his best, lacked a put-away pitch and still held the Athletics to one run in 52/3 innings? Not bad.
And how about this: Montgomery’s effort kept his ERA at 1.62, which trails only Felix Hernandez (1.59 in 2005) for the lowest by a Mariner in his first seven career starts.
“If he can do it for another eight weeks,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon deadpanned, “I might be impressed.”
Lest there be any doubt, McClendon laughed and quickly added, “Oh, I’m impressed. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”
Montgomery (4-2), a left-hander, won his third consecutive start when Fernando Rodney, the fourth Mariners’ pitcher, worked out of a two-out jam in the ninth inning for his 16th save in 19 chances.
Offensively, the Mariners did just enough against Oakland right-hander Chris Bassitt, a reliever who made a second consecutive spot start because staff ace Sonny Gray is recovering from a nasty bout with salmonella.
Through five innings, the Mariners couldn’t have done much less had they been facing Gray. But they struck suddenly with two outs in the sixth after Bassitt (0-2) hit Robinson Cano near the right ankle with a 1-2 slider.
Cano remained in the game, and limped his way to third base when soon-to-be All-Star Nelson Cruz followed with a double to left. (At full speed, Cano was unlikely to score.)
Turned out, it didn’t matter.
Seth Smith drove a full-count slider up the middle for a two-run single, and the Mariners had a 2-1 lead — and their scoreless streak halted at 15 innings.
“It was a slider away,” Smith said. “I thought it was a pretty good pitch, but I was just able to get the barrel to it. Just kind of a baseball thing. As soon as I hit it, I saw it go through.”
That finished Bassitt, who gave up two runs and five hits in 52/3 innings.
Montgomery couldn’t make it through the sixth despite erasing a leadoff single from Billy Burns by getting Stephen Vogt to ground into a double play. Ben Zobrist followed with a double, and Billy Butler drew a walk.
When the Mariners went to the bullpen for Mark Lowe, the Athletics countered by sending up Josh Reddick for Josh Phegley.
Lowe won. Strikeout.
Lowe also worked a scoreless seventh inning before Joe Beimel pitched a one-two-three eighth. Rodney got the call in the ninth because McClendon liked his history against the upcoming Oakland hitters.
Rodney retired the first two hitters before creating some drama by allowing an infield single and a walk. But Mark Canha’s grounder to third ended the game.
The victory enabled the Mariners to salvage a split in the four-game series and stay ahead of the Athletics in their battle to remain out of last place in the American League West.
Montgomery’s scoreless streak ended at 20 innings when Sam Fuld lofted a 1-1 fastball just deep enough to clear the right-field wall for a one-out homer in the third inning.
It was Fuld’s first homer of the season and came in his 200th plate appearance.
“I left a pitch out over the plate,” Montgomery said, “and he took advantage of it. It happens.”
It meant Montgomery fell just short of Mark Langston’s franchise rookie record of 21 scoreless innings in 1984.
The game began to turn when the Athletics missed a chance to extend their lead in the fifth inning after getting a call overturned on a replay review.
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager bounced a throw to first on Canha’s one-out grounder, but umpire Marty Foster signaled out. Oakland challenged, and the review reversed the call.
Canha went to third on Marcus Semien’s single to left, but Montgomery kept the deficit at 1-0 by getting Fuld to ground into a third-second-first double play.