SEATTLE — If the timeline was different, Mike Montgomery would likely still be the property of the Kansas City Royals, not giving one of the best performances ever by a left-hander in Seattle Mariners history.
In just his fifth major league start, Montgomery tossed a four-hitter on Tuesday night, shutting out the Royals 7-0 in a dominant performance.
Montgomery became the first Seattle lefty to toss a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts and no walks. And it was made sweeter by coming against the club that drafted him in the first round in 2008 before trading him to Tampa Bay.
"It was fun though because I played with them for a couple of years and to now face them and face them in the big leagues it was a cool experience," Montgomery said. "I’ll remember them for a long time."
Montgomery dominated the best hitting team in baseball after running into all kinds of trouble just three batters into the game. It took only seven pitches for the Royals to load the bases thanks to singles by Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas and hitting Lorenzo Cain to load the bases.
But a strikeout of Eric Hosmer and double play off the bat of Kendrys Morales got Montgomery out of the first inning. The first two batters of the second reached, but then Montgomery took over, striking out the side and starting a string of 17 straight retired before shortstop Brad Miller’s error with two outs in the seventh.
"You think ‘We’ll get them the next inning,’ but man, there was no more getting them after that," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "He just settled in. He started spotting his fastball, mixing up that really, really good changeup and mixing in good sliders and curveballs."
Montgomery landed in Seattle via trade before the start of this season. Montgomery (2-2) became the second Mariners pitcher this season to toss a complete game, joining Felix Hernandez, and he became the 10th rookie in Seattle history to toss a complete game.
While Montgomery was tossing a gem, Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie was getting knocked around by old nemesis Dustin Ackley.
Ackley singled, doubled and homered for his first three-hit game of the season, after having only one two-hit game all year. He lined a ground-rule double in his first at-bat against Guthrie (5-5) and added a single his next time up that eluded the glove of Alex Gordon’s sliding attempt in left field.
But the big blow was Ackley’s fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot off the top of the wall in right-center that gave Seattle a 6-0 lead. Ackley is 9 of 13 with four doubles and three home runs against Guthrie in his career.
"Most of the pitches he had done damage had been low pitches so I tried to work up in the zone better and he did damage on those today as well," Guthrie said.
Guthrie gave up nine hits and in all five of his losses this season has allowed at least six hits. Miller walked with the bases loaded in the third for Seattle’s first run and Mike Zunino followed with an RBI single, snapping an 0-for-14 skid that included 11 strikeouts.
"One run at a time they just kind of kept tacking them on. … It all kind of happened quickly," Guthrie said.
Raul Ibanez, part of the Royals’ roster last season before retiring, was presented with his AL championship ring in a pregame ceremony in the clubhouse.
Mariners: Nelson Cruz was back in the lineup a day after popping his pelvic bone out of place and having it put back. Cruz will likely be the designated hitter for a little while to make sure he doesn’t aggravate the injury.
Royals: Danny Duffy (2-3) will pitch for the first time since May 16 in the series finale on Wednesday. Duffy went on the 15-day DL on May 25 with left biceps tendinitis. Duffy made two rehab starts at Triple-A Omaha.
Mariners: Roenis Elias (4-4) looks for his second straight win after striking out 10 in a victory over Houston his last time out.