Montas impresses during extended outing

Montas impresses during extended outing

CHICAGO -- When Chris Sale takes the mound for the White Sox, the team's long reliever rarely, if ever, becomes the focus of the game.

In fact, Sale's three-inning effort during Chicago's 7-0 loss on Sunday tied a career-low and marked just the sixth time he has not worked at least six innings among his 28 starts this season. Minnesota's continued season-long dominance over the White Sox ace meant hard-throwing rookie Frankie Montas had the chance to show off his ability for really the first time since he joined the Major League roster.

Montas, who previously threw one inning on Sept. 2 at Minnesota and one inning on Wednesday against the Indians at home, worked a career-high three innings in this series finale. He walked three and found himself in bases-loaded situations during the fourth and sixth, but fanned five and allowed just one run out of those two trouble spots.

"I was feeling good today," said Montas, who threw 42 of his 65 pitches for strikes. "I just tried to go out there and help the team, and do the best I can."

"Even in some situations loading up the bases in the middle of their lineup, [Montas] found a way to find something and get out of it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "For him to get in there and go multiple innings was big for us. I thought he battled well."

Minnesota loaded the bases in the fourth on two hits and a walk, before Miguel Sano grounded into an inning-ending double play to third baseman Mike Olt. Montas got Sano with two consecutive sliders following a 97-mph fastball.

In the sixth, Montas loaded the bases with nobody out before striking out Brian Dozier with a slider. Joe Mauer singled home a run, but Montas fanned Sano and Trevor Plouffe, again both on sliders, to escape further damage.

With Montas commanding his slider and fastball, and possessing a fastball that can hit 100 mph, he already shows the stuff of a possible late-inning reliever. Sunday's longer effort could lead to a start for Montas during the upcoming four-game series in Detroit, a role he capably handled with a 2.97 ERA over 23 starts for Double-A Birmingham this season.

"I feel like it doesn't matter if you're starting the game and if you come [in] as a reliever," Montas said. "You've got to still go out there and compete and do your job."

"[Montas'] breaking ball, we're starting to get on the same page with it," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. "He throws a variation in different counts, so we're figuring out how to use that. I thought he did a really nice job executing pitches later in counts, going for the strikeout and making sure he's down. That only works when you can throw it for strikes, and he was doing that."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.