Montgomery struggles, Duffy dominates in 5-1 Royals victory

Seeking a sweep of the Kansas City Royals, the Yankees turned to rookie left-hander Jordan Montgomery who was opposed by staff ace of the Royals, fellow southpaw Danny Duffy. Coming off yet another double-digit run performance in their 11-7 win last night, the Yankee bats sought to keep things going and force Duffy's sixth straight winless start. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Danny Duffy was at his absolute best tonight, dominating with his strong fastball/slider combination to keep the Bombers off balance all evening. The Yankees flirted with being shut out for the first time this season, but were able to scratch out a run in the ninth. 

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Duffy came into this start with just 35 strikeouts to his name across his first eight starts, but through the first two innings alone, he had already racked up five of them, all swinging. Duffy possesses a strong fastball, but it was his slider which was the dominant pitch in his arsenal early on.  All five of Duffy's strikeouts through the game's first two innings came via his wipeout slider. Duffy was also able to get ahead by throwing first pitch strikes to all six hitters he faced through the first two innings. 

On the other end, Montgomery worked a clean one-two-three first inning but quickly worked himself into trouble in the second after walks to Eric Hosmer and Jorge Bonifacio.  Jorge Soler hit into what should have been an inning-ending double play, but a sloppy relay from Starlin Castro and a missed scoop by Chris Carter extended the inning.  That immediately proved costly as Whit Merrifield singled up the middle to score Hosmer and then Drew Butera punched a single to right to score Soler, giving Kansas City an early 2-0 lead. 


Photo Credit: John Sleezer/TNS
The Yankees and Royals exchanged zeroes in the third with both Duffy and Montgomery working easy innings, but the Yankees would stage their first rally of the evening in the top of the fourth. Jacoby Ellsbury laid down a perfect drag bunt that Duffy was able to make a good play on to get the out at first... until Joe Girardi decided to challenge the play.  After the review, it was deemed that Hosmer's foot came off the base before he received the baseball, and Ellsbury was called safe. Sanchez quickly popped up and Holliday worked a walk, but Castro swung at what should have been ball four for the second out of the inning. Judge followed and just missed squaring up a 3-1 fastball, but got under it and flew out to right to end the threat. 

Montgomery would settle down through the middle innings.  After retiring the Royals 1-2-3 in the third, he struck out the side in the fourth. The tall lefty had retired seven consecutive batters since allowing the two earlier runs and given the Yankees offense a chance to get back into the game.  

Chase Headley led off the top of the fifth with a sharp ground ball to third that was booted by Mike Moustakas and Didi Gregious worked an impressive nine pitch walk to put runners on first and second with no outs, but Aaron Hicks, perhaps a bit too aggressive following the walk to Gregorius, swung at the first pitch and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.  Chris Carter would strike out for the second time in the game – Duffy's eighth strikeout overall – to end the threat. 

The wheels would then fall off for Montgomery in the bottom of the fifth inning. Whit Merrifield led off the frame with a bunt single and Drew Butera reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop.  Alcides Escobar worked a walk and then Mike Moustakas hammered the first pitch he saw over the wall in right for a three run homer, giving Kansas City a commanding 5-0 lead. One they would not surrender the rest of the evening.  Duffy worked around a Gary Sanchez single in the sixth and Aaron Judge double in the seventh to finish an impressive outing and turn things over to the bullpen. 

Photo Credit: John Sleezer/TNS

Chad Green pitched three ultra impressive innings, racking up six strikeouts, but the Yankees' ninth inning rally fell short after Aaron Hicks struck out and Kelvin Herrera retired Brett Gardner, pinch hitting for Chris Carter, on a liner to left to end the ballgame.  The loss dropped the Yankees to 24-14 on the season.

Winning Pitcher: Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97) 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 10 K 
Losing Pitcher: Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81) 5.0 IP, 5 R (5 ER), 1 HR, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K  
Notables: 
Mike Moustakas: 1-4, HR (10), 3 RBI 
Jorge Bonifacio: 1-2, BB 
Whit Merrifield: 2-3, RBI 
Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2B 
Didi Gregorius: 1-3, RBI, BB 
Jacoby Ellsbury: 2-4, 2B 
Starlin Castro: 1-4, 2B, R 
Chad Green: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 6 K 

By virtue of the Orioles' loss to Detroit earlier today, the Yankees' lead over Baltimore for first in the AL East remains unchanged at 1.5 games.  Up next for the Yankees is a visit to Tropicana Field to play the Rays before heading home for a six game homestand.  Friday night's pitching match-up is Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.92).  First pitch scheduled for 7:05 EST. 

Article by: Andrew Natalizio 

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