CHICAGO -- Mike Montgomery wanted to battle, but he could only carry on for so long.Making his first start of the year in place of the injured Kyle Hendricks, Montgomery worked through the Rockies' lineup with really only one mistake Friday. But by the time the left-hander had made it
CHICAGO -- Mike Montgomery wanted to battle, but he could only carry on for so long.
Making his first start of the year in place of the injured Kyle Hendricks, Montgomery worked through the Rockies' lineup with really only one mistake Friday. But by the time the left-hander had made it through four innings, his pitch count was already at 73.
"They've got a good lineup, and I just wasn't able to get those quick outs," Montgomery said after the Cubs' 5-3 loss. "I didn't want to give in to some of their big guys."
Montgomery's start lasted four innings, tying it for his longest outing of his season. He gave up three hits, three walks and two runs with five strikeouts, working around runners on base in three of the four innings. He almost got out of the outing unscathed, but a mistake pitch in the second cost him.
Montgomery allowed Ian Desmond to reach on a single to start the second. Trevor Story struck out, which brought Ryan Hanigan to the plate. With the count at 1-1, Montgomery threw him a low fastball, but it was right over the middle. Hanigan smashed it into the bleachers in left for his second homer of the season.
"I think [there was] just one pitch I'd like to have back to Hanigan there," Montgomery said. "He put a good swing on it, but you know I had to battle."
From then on Montgomery took care of business, but it was how he did so that led to his early exit. Montgomery threw six balls to the next two batters he faced in the second inning. He had a 1-2-3 third, but again allowed all three batters to reach three-ball counts.
Then in the fourth inning, Montgomery had an eight-pitch battle with Story before eventually walking him.
"That was not a good number," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Montgomery's pitch count. "Coming off of 51 [pitches] his last time, I thought I took it as far as we possibly could.
"Part of that high number was a lot of three-ball counts, and that's where the fastball command comes into play," Maddon said. "As he gets better fastball command, he will be able to pitch more deeply into that game."
Overall, Maddon said he thought Montgomery was fine outside of the pitch to Hanigan. As for Montgomery, he took the outing in stride, giving credit to a Rockies lineup that ranks in the top two in the National League in runs and saying he hoped to learn from different aspects of the outing.
Montgomery will likely get at least one more turn in the rotation to showcase that growth, as Hendricks will remain on the DL through the team's next five games. There is, however, one thing he said he won't adjust: his mentality.
"No matter what happens, no matter what role you're in, you've just got to go out there and keep making good pitches," Montgomery said. "That was the focus today -- and whether it's late in the game or starting the game, its the same mentality."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.