Montgomery undone by Yanks' misplay

Montgomery undone by Yanks' misplay

KANSAS CITY -- When Yankees manager Joe Girardi talks about rookie left-hander Jordan Montgomery, there's a note of caution in his voice.

"This is a young kid, and he will go through some growing pains," Girardi said. "We'll have to go through them with him."

One of the things accomplished starters must do in the Major Leagues is pitch around occasional defensive mishaps, and Montgomery wasn't able to do that on Thursday in the Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Royals.

In the second inning, with runners at first and second and one out, Montgomery got Jorge Soler to hit a grounder to shortstop Didi Gregorius for what looked like an inning-ending double play. But Gregorius threw a bit low to second, and Starlin Castro's relay flip hit the ground and eluded first baseman Chris Carter.

Given that reprieve, the Royals made the Yankees pay, as No. 8 hitter Whit Merrifield lined an RBI single to center and No. 9 hitter Drew Butera followed with an RBI single to right.

Those two early runs looked especially big the way Royals starter Danny Duffy was silencing the Yankees' hitters.

"That's a play I should make," Castro said.

Still, Montgomery looked at it as a missed opportunity for him to bail out his defense when he couldn't retire Merrifield and then Butera.

"I just wasn't executing pitches out there," said Montgomery. "I'm trying not to think of myself as a rookie and use that excuse, because I know I'm better than these outings. I'm just going to pick out the positives and learn from the negatives."

Montgomery had put himself in harm's way in that second inning by walking two of the first three hitters.

"I never walked guys in the Minors," he said. "I don't know where that is coming from, maybe just giving the hitters a little bit too much credit. "

Montgomery was determined to escape that second inning unscathed despite the two walks and the double play that didn't get turned.

"It was a tough play," he said. "Castro had to kind of throw sidearm and go around the runner. So it's my job to go get the next guy."

But that didn't happen, as Merrifield got the better of Montgomery with the run-scoring single to center.

"Just a fastball up," Montgomery said. "A fastball on a 1-0 count that might have been in, but it was up."

Montgomery later gave up a three-run homer to Mike Moustakas on a misplaced slider and finished his night having allowed five runs in five innings.

"I know the fans expect more from me, and I expect more from myself," he said.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.