Royals pitcher Mike Montgomery gives up three homers in loss to Orioles
Royals left-hander Mike Montgomery’s previous two starts provided reason for optimism about what the veteran, reacquired prior to the trade deadline, could bring to their starting rotation. After all, he’d pitched exclusively in relief this season prior to joining the Royals.
The Baltimore Orioles put Montgomery on his heels in the second inning, and he remained under attack for the rest of the outing. Meanwhile, the Royals’ offense couldn’t get a key hit against a pitcher who once wore their uniform.
Orioles right-hander Aaron Brooks kept the Royals’ bats under wraps for the better part of five innings, and the bullpen did the rest Wednesday night as the Royals dropped the rubber match of the three-game series, 8-1, in front of an announced 9,872 in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
“Credit them,” Montgomery said. “They had a good game plan, and they did a good job of making me work and not chasing pitches that I wanted them to chase. I wasn’t executing pitches as well as I have the last few weeks, but that happens. They did a good job.”
Montgomery (3-6) gave up five runs on eight hits, three walks and a hit batter. Three of the eight hits he allowed were of the loud and far variety. The Orioles (41-86) hit three home runs in five innings against Montgomery, including back-to-back bombs in the fifth.
Montgomery hadn’t allowed an earned run, struck out 15 and walked two in his previous two starts (13 innings).
“It was just one of those nights where it seemed like they really kinda were one step ahead of me with what I was trying to do,” Montgomery said. “I made a lot of good pitches right below the zone that they didn’t chase. My changeup is my bread and butter, and they wouldn’t chase at that pitch. It’s always a cat-and-mouse game with hitting. Sometimes you feel good, and they just beat you.”
Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield hit his 15th home run of the season, and outfielder Brett Phillips reached base twice (walk, single), but the Royals mustered just seven runs in three-game series with five coming in the opener.
Brooks, a 2011 ninth-round draft pick of the Royals, pitched against his former team for the first time. Brooks made four appearances (one start) for the Royals in 2014-15.
The Royals traded Brooks to the Oakland Athletics, along with left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea, in the deal that acquired Ben Zobrist in 2015. Brooks has played for the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, had another stint with the Athletics and played for the Orioles since that 2015 trade.
Brooks (3-7) held the Royals (45-82) to one run on seven hits and one walk in five innings.
“Aaron Brooks threw the ball pretty good, but we’re just not swinging well right now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
After Montgomery cruised through at first inning which included back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning, the Orioles scored three runs in the second inning on two walks, a hit batter and four hits.
Jonath Villar started the scoring with a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw from Montgomery. Pedro Severino lined a double to center and scored two-batters later when Stevie Wilkerson went down and got curveball and golfed it for a double off the wall in left field.
The Royals turned an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded to keep the Orioles from adding on more runs.
“He got through it and I’m like, ‘OK, we’ve seen this before,’” Yost said. “’He’s given up three runs. If we can hold them, we can battle back.’ The problem that we’ve having right now is earlier in the month, we were scoring some runs. (Hunter Dozier) was hot, and (Jorge) Soler was hot. (Cheslor) Cuthbert is working an 0 for 40, and we’re just struggling offensively. We just couldn’t get enough runs back on the board to make it matter.”
Merrifield’s solo homer in the third inning provided the Royals lone run. Brooks’ pitch count ballooned to 92 pitches in five innings, but the Royals stranded seven men on base in those first five innings.
Montgomery gave up another homer in the fifth inning, this time a 3-2 pitch that stayed up to Anthony Santander. The next batter, Renato Nunez, took Montgomery deep to center for the Orioles third homer of the night.
Left-hander Tim Hill gave up three runs in the sixth, all on a Hanser Alberto home run which made it 8-1.
The Royals will travel to Boston and resume their suspended game against the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon. The game will pick up in the top of the 10th inning with Meibrys Viloria at the plate with a 2-1 count and the game tied at 4.