Jordan Montgomery, Chad Green combine for 13 strikeouts in Tampa Yankees' openerEach also allowed a run in the T-Yanks' 2-1 loss to Lakeland
TAMPA - Weather forced Yankees pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green to change their Opening Day plans from Lake Erie to Tampa Bay, but the pair combined for nine strong innings in what ended up as a 2-1 Tampa Yankees loss to Lakeland in the season opener at Steinbrenner Field.
The two were scheduled to start the openers for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton, respectively, but with a poor forecast in the Northeast, the Yankees announced on Tuesday that both would be moved to Tampa. Rain did indeed postpone the RailRiders' game in Buffalo and the Thunder's tilt in Erie, Penn., and Montgomery and Green ended up pitching in place of righty James Kaprielian, who went on Tampa's disabled list earlier in the day with right elbow pain.
Montgomery got the start and went five innings, throwing 47 of his 69 pitches for strikes and finishing with a line of one unearned run on three hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts.
In the first, he allowed a leadoff ground-rule double, but then retired seven in a row before David Gonzalez's one-out single in the third. Five more in a row went down, all by strikeout, before Lakeland struck in the fifth; Zac Shepherd walked to open the frame, and after he advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Jorge Saez, Arvicent Perez singled to right to drive Shepherd in.
Montgomery got Gonzalez to fly into a 9-3 double play to escape that inning, though, and that would cap off his night.
Green, who pitched for Lakeland in 2013 when he was in the Tigers' organization, took over for the sixth and went the rest of the way, finishing with a line of one earned run on two hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 34 of his 49 pitches for strikes, but ended up taking the loss.
In the sixth, Green struck out the first batter he faced before allowing a one-out single, but that was erased on a 5-4-3 double play and he would retire the side in order in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, though, Ross Kivitt led off with a solo homer, and despite Green retiring the next three batters, Tampa was unable to rally, going down in order in the ninth.
Overall, Montgomery and Green combined for just two runs on five hits and a walk, and collectively they struck out 13 Flying Tigers. Both men will pitch again on Tuesday, Montgomery for Scranton and Green for Trenton, before one of them will be called up to be the Yankees' fifth starter and make their season debut on April 16 against the Cardinals at Yankee Stadium.
The T-Yanks scored their lone run in the sixth, rallying with two outs on a Trey Amburgey single, a Matt Snyder hit by pitch, and Tito Polo's RBI single that knotted the game at 1-1. Polo stole second to put two in scoring position, but Nick Solak grounded out to end the rally, and the T-Yanks went nine up, nine down in the final three frames.
Their only other strong scoring chance came in the second, when Polo led off with a double and Solak was hit by a pitch; however, Mandy Alvarez lined into a 1-3 double play, and on what was scored a single for Saez, Polo was thrown at home for the final out of the inning.
Offensively for the T-Yanks, Polo had three of the team's five hits, adding a two-out single in the fourth to the aforementioned double and RBI single, and Saez's single and Amburgey's single were the only other hits. The team had just three other baserunners, coming on Snyder's hit by a pitch and walks drawn by Solak and Kyle Holder, who also stole a base.