Seattle rookie, drafted by Kansas City in 2008, pitches 1st shutout
By Andrew Erickson
SEATTLE -- As Mike Montgomery jogged from the Mariners' dugout to take the mound for his ninth and final inning of work Tuesday night against the Royals, fans left their seats to give the rookie left-hander a standing ovation.
Twelve pitches later, they were up and roaring again as the 25-year-old completed a four-hit shutout, just the 15th for a rookie in Seattle history, to close out a 7-0 win and even the three-game series.
A night after Royals starter Joe Blanton mowed down 16 straight Mariners hitters, Montgomery stymied a tough Kansas City lineup, bouncing back from early trouble to string together the best start of his young career.
And he did it with a little extra motivation, pitching against the team that drafted him 36th overall in 2008 and then traded him in a deal to get James Shields in 2012.
"Yeah, it was fun," Montgomery said. "I probably had a little more emotion going in than I normally do, but I know a lot of those guys and was with them for five years, so it's definitely a little extra added on to it."
Montgomery did not surrender a hit between the third and eighth innings, at one point retiring 17 consecutive Royals hitters. The lefty also recorded 10 strikeouts, a high for any starter against Kansas City this season.
It was a masterful pitching performance, and one that was hardly imaginable in the top of the first inning.
In just seven pitches, the lefty was in a bases-loaded, no-outs jam and in for what looked like the start of a rough outing.
But Montgomery battled, striking out first baseman Eric Hosmer on four pitches and hustling to cover first just a pitch later to complete a 3-6-1 double play and get out of the inning unscathed.
"At that point I kind of was just trying to find it," Montgomery said. "I didn't feel in a good rhythm. I had a good at-bat against Hosmer and that gave me a little more confidence and that double play was huge. From there I just started to get better."
Kansas City's first two batters reached base in the second inning, but Montgomery struck out the side and was off and running. Catcher Salvador Perez reached on an error in the eighth and designated hitter Kendrys Morales singled to right in the ninth for the Royals' only production after the second inning.
"He was tough. He kept getting his changeup over and his other breaking stuff," said Hosmer, Montgomery's former roommate in Triple-A Omaha. "He pitched great. Hopefully we see him again in Kansas City and get him then."
Since making his debut for the Mariners on June 2, Montgomery has yet to last fewer than six innings or allow more than four runs.
Montgomery has quickly become the latest addition to a group of young Mariners pitchers -- including Roenis Elias and Taijuan Walker -- who have found success this season.
"When he came here, he got on a roll," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "I think with the addition of Elias pitching well and Taijuan turning it on, I think this kid kind of fed on it and joined the party."
Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.