Yankees Postgame Notebook: 'Pretty good formula' leads Yankees to eighth straight win

NEW YORK - The Yankees' longest winning streak of 2016 was seven games, from September 4-10 - and just 13 games into 2017 they've already eclipsed that streak, Monday's 7-4 victory over the White Sox accounting for win number eight in a row, all of which have come without phenom catcher Gary Sanchez and starting shortstop Didi Gregorius in the lineup.

"I think if you tell any manager they're going to win eight in a row, they'll sign up for it right away," manager Joe Girardi said after the win. "So much of it depends on your starting pitching; we've pitched extremely well and that has been key in this streak. I knew we had some key pieces down, but there are a lot of good players in that clubhouse who have experience and can pick up the slack, and I knew that if we could get our starters going, we'd be okay."

"Everybody's pretty confident," added Matt Holliday. "We feel like when we come out every day, we have a great chance to win; our starting pitching gives us the chance to win every night, our bullpen has been phenomenal, and we've gotten some timely hits. It's been a good formula."

Tonight, the starting pitching baton was passed to Jordan Montgomery, who allowed three runs over six innings in just his second major-league start.

"He was pretty good tonight, and I thought his arsenal was better," Girardi said of the lefty. "I thought he had all his pitches today, and we saw some really good fastballs down in the zone, so I just thought his stuff overall was better."

"Yeah, I kind of knew what to expect, and knew the environment, so I just went out there and stayed within myself," Montgomery added of that improvement. "I was a little less amped up this time, and went out there knowing I wasn't going to try to overthrow and blow it by everybody; I just had to trust my sinker, know I was going to get some ground ball outs with it and just trying to let them hit it."

Montgomery had quite a dichotomy on the night, as he was ahead of many batters on the evening but also had to work himself out of jams in four of his six full innings, including a first inning that saw him put runners on second and third with one out but escape unscored upon.

"First innings are always tough for me while I settle in and find my tempo, I just have to not try to be too fine and trust my mechanics," the lefty said. "But getting ahead is huge, because it allows me to mix my pitches more, change speeds and keep them off balance."

The Yankees put up five for Montgomery in the third and then gave him a 7-0 lead after five, which helped keep his relaxation level high - "that really helps you settle in and pitch, just use your defense and try to get them to hit it," the lefty said - and although the wheels fell off a bit in the seventh, when he allowed two singles and a three-run homer to Yolmer Sanchez before departing, this is still a positive outing in every stretch of the word for both skipper and hurler.

"Maybe he tired a bit in the end; his ball cut a little bit in the end, which is usually doesn't do," Girardi said. "That's something we'll take a look at, but I thought he was pretty good tonight. I'm sure he'll think about (the seventh), but that's okay; it's part of the game, and I didn't see him hanging his head or anything, so I think he'll be fine."

"I'm just focused on the first six innings; in the seventh I still made pitches, I just didn't make one," Montgomery added. "We got a team win, and we'll hopefully just keep rolling from here."

And in that team win, Montgomery got congratulations from all of his teammates and another ball to add to his first strikeout from Wednesday: a ball from his first major-league win.

"That (first major-league win) sounds good; hopefully it's the first of many," the lefty said with a smile.

Since it's now an eight-game winning streak, here are eight more notes and quotes from tonight:

-Prior to the game, the Yankees' issues with runners in scoring position were mentioned, but in their five-run third, they got a home run, a double, and an infield single with RISP, and all came with two outs Here's Starlin Castro, whose double in that inning was his second of the night, on that phenomenon: "I think right now the whole team is confident. We pick each other up, and everybody's doing their jobs."

-Holliday had the home run in that inning, a three-run shot, and here's his take on what was his second Yankees homer: "(Derek Holland) is unpredictable sometimes with what he can do, but you have to watch out for his fastball. I got one up and just put a good swing on it, and I got it good."

-Aaron Judge's infield single in that third and his two-run home run in the fifth accounted for the Yankees' final three runs, but both of those at-bats were him just trying to avoid what happened in the second inning, when he struck out with Castro on third and one out: "I didn't get the job done there, so I was just trying to get runners in or over and keep the line moving."

-Here's Girardi when asked about Judge's infield single and whether or not he knew the big man could get down the line that quickly: "Sometimes you look at his size and think you have a defensive end out there, but defensive ends run pretty well, too."

-More Judge, on the lineup contribution from top to bottom: "This team is about 25 guys pulling the same rope, and if one guy doesn't get the job done, there are 24 more behind him to pick him up."

-Behind Montgomery, Adam Warren allowed one run over 2 1/3 innings, and while his streak of consecutive batters retired was stopped at 22, that stretch is only a mere smidgen of his value according to Girardi: "He's a bridge, he's a fill-in when I need it in the back end…he just gives our bullpen a lot of versatility. That's a really important piece to have in a great bullpen, a guy who can do that and handle a number of different roles."

-Here's Warren's modest remark on streaks, both his consecutive batters retired tally and the team's winning run: "Yeah, you kind of know what's going on there, but it's not going to last forever. It's more important that we're winning, and hopefully we can keep rolling."

-Last word goes to Girardi, this on the poise he has seen in Montgomery both in Spring Training and his first two MLB starts so far: "I think he does have a lot of poise, and I think part of that comes from being the Friday night pitcher at South Carolina, pitching in a College World Series, and there being high expectations for your team. I know it's not pitching in Yankee Stadium, but the College World Series is a big deal; there is a lot of pressure and a lot of emotion, and you have to learn how to control that. He had been through that, and I thought it would help him.