Breaks don't go Montas' way in first MLB start

Rookie impresses White Sox before 3rd-inning hiccup

Breaks don't go Montas' way in first MLB start

DETROIT -- The final pitching line for White Sox rookie Frankie Montas' first Major League start shows a performance below what is judged to be quality standards.

Montas allowed six runs on six hits over three innings during the Tigers' 7-4 victory Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park, leaving the White Sox with a split in the four-game set. But take a look no deeper than Detroit's four-run third to understand that Montas' results were influenced by circumstances going on behind him.

Rajai Davis reached on a one-out infield single to start the third, and Ian Kinsler followed with a bloop single to right. Davis was moving on the pitch, so second baseman Carlos Sanchez was out of position for Kinsler's hit because he was doing his job by covering the base.

Geovany Soto tried to pick off Davis at second, only to have the throw bounce into the outfield and move the runners up a base. Victor Martinez, who homered in the first for the 200th of his career, was intentionally walked and J.D. Martinez came through with a ground-rule double scoring two.

J.D. Martinez's two-run double

Not the best location for Montas on that pitch to Martinez; but not a great deal of breaks for him beforehand.

"You end up loading the bases and getting J.D. right there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He had a chance to maybe get out of it with a ground ball, but it doesn't happen, so it changes the look of that inning."

"We are not looking for any excuses by any means," Soto said. "But I felt like he had a tough going in that moment of the game. The runner goes, the bloop right in front of Sanchy and [Avisail Garcia], that kind of got them going a little bit."

After spending the 2015 season excelling as a starter with a 2.97 ERA for Double-A Birmingham, Montas had found success over five relief appearances since joining the White Sox. His spot start on Wednesday had a pitch-count limit, with the hard-throwing right-hander replaced by Scott Carroll after reaching 72 (45 for strikes). Montas -- who is ranked as the No. 3 White Sox prospect -- said his approach didn't change with the temporary change of job descriptions.

"It was great even though I didn't get the win. I had fun," said Montas, who struck out three and walked two. "It's a game, so I was just having fun."

The White Sox have not determined if Montas will be used as a reliever or a starter in the future. He has the plus-fastball and improved slider that could make him a late-innings presence in the bullpen.

Ventura indicated postgame Wednesday that Montas probably will get another start over the season's final 10 games.

"We're getting our first look at him," Ventura said.

"This kid throws very firm. He's got a great two-seamer, changeup is a work in progress," Soto said. "The slider, it's a good pitch for him. I feel that he did a good job. He made a few mistakes but I think he was a real promising young man."

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.