Jordan Montgomery's MLB debut made a positive impression on many
The young lefty pitched well in the Yankees' 8-4 win on Wednesday
NEW YORK - Jordan Montgomery's father, Jim, told Meredith Marakovits during his son's major-league debut on Wednesday that "it's been a long way since his parks and recreation days at eight years old, but he's always worked hard and always been prepared for every game."
That showed in the Yankees' eventual 8-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon, where Montgomery allowed three runs (two earned) in 4 2/3 innings.
"For the first start I'm pretty pleased," manager Joe Girardi said of Montgomery's performance. "There are a lot of emotions that go into (making a major-league debut), so you worry about guys overthrowing or getting out of the first inning, so to me it was a positive day."
The length of Montgomery's start was partially by design, Girardi noting that he pulled the lefty after 89 pitches because Montgomery hadn't thrown more than 77 in any game this spring and needed just 69 to complete five innings in his lone minor-league start on April 6.
Didn't matter, though, because the lefty was, as dad said, well prepared.
I got here about 9 a.m., because I usually like getting to the field early on start days so I can settle in and kind of relax," Montgomery said after the game, "but it was a little tense today; you get in this locker room, in this stadium, and you're around all these guys, it's something I'll never forget."
If it was tense, well, Montgomery hid that well from his teammates, even his catcher.
"He might've been nervous, but he did a good job of suppressing that and keeping it on the inside," Kyle Higashioka said. "Before the game I told him, 'don't try to be any different than you normally are, the reason you're here is because you're good enough to be here,' and that's what he did."
Girardi admitted that Montgomery could've gone longer into the game had he made a different pitch or two in the first inning, not walking Evan Longoria with two outs or missing his spot on Rickie Weeks Jr.'s two-run homer. Then again, though, the outing could've been a lot shorter had the lefty unraveled after that, but what might have impressed the skipper most was how he didn't, and how he also didn't come unraveled when working into trouble in later innings.
"You want to see how they respond, and I thought he responded well," Girardi said. "He put it behind him and got some big outs for us today. I didn't think he had great fastball command, but I think he did a great job pitching out of some jams, and I'm very pleased with what he did."
Montgomery, to his credit, noted that while pitching at South Carolina, where he went to a College World Series, he learned that when it comes to situations like the first inning, "you can't let that kind of stuff snowball."
Ask Higashioka, and he'll tell you that's a mentality Montgomery backs up 100 percent of the time.
"I noticed, especially last year with him in Triple-A, that he always takes it to another level when he gets in a little bit of trouble," Higashioka said. "He can rely on all his pitches and execute them when he needs to, and he's mature enough to know that one pitch doesn't make or break the outing."
All said and done, the lefty impressed not only his catcher, but also some veteran teammates, too.
"I thought he did a really good job for us, and bounced back when he needed to," Chase Headley said. "It looked like they were uncomfortable in the box at times, and a lot of swings were awkward."
Girardi was pleased too of course, and said after the game he anticipates Montgomery continuing on in the rotation for the time being, but perhaps the ultimate vote of confidence came from the man who is tasked with making the personnel moves, general manager Brian Cashman.
"He looks like someone who can help us for quite some time," Cashman said.
That's certainly cool with one other recently-graduated Baby Bomber who understands the pressure of being at the center of the Yankees' youth movement.
"I'm excited that he's the fifth starter," Aaron Judge said, "and I think he's really going to help this club."