Yankees manager Aaron Boone took the ball and a piece of Jordan Montgomery’s heart from him last night. Was it analytics again?
I haven’t looked for the Yankees spin, delivered as usual by their faithful servant, Aaron Boone, explaining why Jordan Montgomery was lifted with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning – because I don’t need to – I know and have memorized all the cliches by now.
Besides, none of it matters.
All that matters is that Aaron Boone, as he watched Montgomery, wordless as his professionalism has taught him, march stoically off the field, realizing he (Boone) had lost a chance to gain the confidence of his young lefty stallion for life.
Yankees: What Aaron Boone Saw With His Lying Eyes
The numbers are important in this case, so let’s review them.
Right from the get-go, it was clear Montgomery did not being his best stuff to the hill, taking 37 pitches, including two walks leading to a 3-0 deficit before Cleveland was retired in the bottom of the first inning.
From there, however, Jordan Montgomery gathered himself, much like Yankees fans may recall seeing Andy Pettitte do on so many occasions.
Holding Cleveland scoreless while simultaneously, the Yankees bats woke up to erase the deficit, climbing to a two-run lead as Montgomery began his fifth inning.
The inning opened with Indians shortstop striking out swinging on an 81mph curveball that was off the plate. Back to the top of the order with Jordan Luplow, who caught a poorly placed 87mph cutter by Montgomery for a double. One out, one on, the Yankees lead by two.
You could, at this point, almost sense Jordan Montgomery switching into fight or flee mode, and by the stare in his eyes, there was no question where he was going.
Indians’ second baseman Cesar Hernandez is served a sinker, two changeups, and a curveball that misses his bat for a strikeout. Two outs, the runner, is still on second base.
Next, Jose Ramirez reaches on a well-placed changeup low and squibbed for an infield hit, moving Luplow to third with two out.
Here comes Boone, almost always the kiss of death to any Yankees pitcher hoping to stay in the game. A mini-conference occurs with Montgomery holding his glove over his mouth as Boone stares at the ground, refusing to meet his pitcher’s eyes.
Yankees: Sorry, No Excuses Hold Up Here
We’ll probably never know what Jordan Montgomery said to Boone beneath his glove – but let me say it for him.
“What the f__k are you doing here? I got this!”
Nor will we ever know the source of the Yankees mystery voice Aaron Boone heard in his ear as he strode to the hill to remove Montgomery, so let me reveal it.
“His next pitch will be his 90th. That’s too many. Get him out of there now.”
We know this is how things work with the Yankees these days, with no room for what used to be called gut decisions managers were free to make – at their own peril, of course – but their baseball acumen and knowledge of what makes their player’s tick took precedent over robots.
If Only Montgomery Was Afforded The Chance (Video)
Aaron Boone needs to live within himself for his decisions to accede to the robots rather than call his own game, especially once a game begins.
It’s one thing for Boone to go over that night’s scouting report on the opposition, seeing, for instance, that Player X owns that night’s pitcher, has been playing reasonably well – so why not (says Boone) put him in tonight’s lineup.
But it’s quite another thing to pull your best left-handed starter in the middle of a game after witnessing his gutty performance following a brief false start.
And notice something here that hasn’t been mentioned. One more batter, one more out, and Jordan Montgomery would have qualified for the win that eventually went to Lucas Luetge after throwing eighteen pitches.
Would Jordan Montgomery love to have had that win – of course, he would.
The Lefty Bulldog The Yankees Have Been Looking For
But Montgomery is a bulldog on the hill. He wanted the opportunity to get that final out, an opportunity that he was denied as though this was the seventh game of the World Series instead of the Yankees’ nineteenth game of the season.
As fans, we often whine why the Yankees are willing to pay (only for example) Corey Kluber $440,000 for each of the 25 or so starts he is expected to make this year, and $110,000 for each of the four innings he contributes to the team each outing.
Yet here we have a Jordan Montgomery who welcomes the day when he will exceed 200 innings in a single season, joining a lonely Gerrit Cole at the fast-becoming lost art in baseball.
Yes, Boone and the Yankees will insist on pointing out the bullpen shut the Indians down for the remainder of the game, and that bullpen has the second-best ERA in the league, so why not use them?
That misses the point, though, which begins and ends with a gutless Aaron Boone, hired by the Yankees as the great communicator with his players, marching step in step with Brian Cashman, and seemingly happy with removing “humanness” in the Yankees clubhouse.
Yankees: “It’s Just Another Hole In The Wall”
At 28, and with only 51 starts in his career, Jordan Montgomery is not likely to forget last night when his manager extended him a vote of “no confidence,” regardless of what the robots were saying.
Sadly, Aaron Boone’s job is safe as long as he plays along to get along. Amazingly, he continues to build on a reputation that brands him as a player’s manager, a title that usually means he goes to bat for his players when they need him most – as Jordan Montgomery did last night.
The Yankees needed that win last night, and they got one. But all the joy was removed when Aaron Boone’s left arm came up as he asked for the ball from Montgomery.
To his credit, Montgomery did not take the ball as Trevor Bauer once did, heaving it over the centerfield fence in anger as his manager Terry Francona stood open-mouthed and embarrassed.
But as I took hold of the remote to find another game upon Montgomery’s removal, I couldn’t help but wish he had.
Shame on the Yankees and shame (even more) on Aaron Boone, because from where I sit as a fan of the Yankees for more than a half-century, I’m struggling to find a reason to hold onto a franchise that’s gone off the rails of Yankees’ history and tradition.
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