It wasn’t all that long ago that drawing a pitching matchup with CC Sabathia in one’s MLB debut was probably considered a stroke of bad luck. Now, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of one of the AL’s loss leaders.
That’ll be the case for Mike Montgomery on Tuesday night in Seattle as he tries to help the Mariners bounce back against the New York Yankees, who are seeking their fifth straight series win at Safeco Field.
The left-hander is filling in the rotation spot of the injured James Paxton, who landed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with an injured middle finger on his pitching hand. The 25-year-old Montgomery was 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Tacoma after coming over from Tampa Bay for Erasmo Ramirez on March 31.
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"He’s done well down there," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB’s official website. "His stuff plays at this level. It’s just a matter of whether he can execute. We’ll find out (Tuesday)."
He’ll be charged with halting a three-game skid after the Mariners lost Monday’s series opener 7-2 to the Yankees (27-25). It was New York’s sixth straight victory in Seattle (24-27) and 12th in the last 15 behind a fifth-inning grand slam from Mark Teixeira.
The next order of business is winning consecutive away games for the first time since a 10-3 road start. The Yankees are 5-12 outside of the Bronx since May 4.
Teixeira has homered 10 times while batting .347 in his last 23 games at Safeco, though that effectiveness dates back as far as 2009. Stale Seattle success is also the case for the club’s former ace.
Sabathia (2-7, 5.67 ERA) has been bad for most of the year but his numbers have been awful in consecutive losses, as he’s allowed 11 runs and 15 hits in 8 1-3 innings after Thursday’s 5-4 loss in Oakland. His seven losses are tied for an AL high, though he thought the latest was productive aside from two home runs.
"I threw the ball well," said Sabathia, who precedes Masahiro Tanaka’s return Wednesday. "Now I’ve just got to tighten up on a couple of pitches and get the ball to the back of our bullpen."
He hasn’t pitched in Seattle since 2011, but he’s won his last five starts there with a 0.71 ERA. He’s 8-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 11 total starts at Safeco, but most of that work came in the previous decade. Last season, he lost his only start against the Mariners, surrendering four runs and nine hits in five innings. Nelson Cruz (1 for 13 with seven strikeouts), Kyle Seager (1 for 10 with five Ks) and Dustin Ackley (1 for 7 with four) have all struggled with Sabathia.
Robinson Cano is 1 for 6 against his former teammate and was 0 for 4 Monday to fall into a 2-for-16 slump and 2-for-21 skid at Safeco. His .246 average is his lowest after play on June 1 since being at .220 in 2008.
"I would never regret my decision," Cano said about leaving New York before last season. "I’m happy here. The way they’ve treated me is amazing. Not only the team, but the fans and city. I’m happy to be here."
Seth Smith has picked him up some with a nine-game hitting streak, but Seattle hasn’t scored more than three runs in six games while batting .200.
Austin Jackson is hitting .386 in his last 14 games against New York.