ARLINGTON -- Jordan Montgomery has been a quiet, steady and consistent force since his arrival in Texas at the Trade Deadline.
After being acquired from the Cardinals on July 30, Montgomery dealt four quality starts in August, helping to stabilize a rotation that was in need of depth and length.
The Rangers needed that consistency from Montgomery on Saturday night, especially as the offense seemingly broke out of its slump. Instead, the right-hander faltered for the first time with Texas, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks as the Rangers fell, 9-7, to the Twins in 10 innings at Globe Life Field.
• Games remaining: vs MIN (1); vs HOU (3); vs OAK (3); at TOR (4); at CLE (3); vs BOS (3); vs SEA (3); at LAA (3); at SEA (4)
• Standings update: Texas entered the day in third place in the American League West, one game behind Seattle and Houston. The Mariners won to extend their lead atop the division, while the Astros lost to remain a game back in second place. The Rangers are two games back of first place. Texas also holds the third AL Wild Card spot by 1 1/2 games over Toronto.
Texas hopped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings before Minnesota tagged Montgomery for a run in the third and five runs in the fourth to take a two-run lead.
“He's been throwing so well, but in that [fourth] inning, things started to unravel there and walks became involved,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Montgomery. “We were trying to get him out of that inning. It was early in the ballgame, but we had to go get him. He's been throwing so well, and hey, it happens. The bullpen actually did a good job today to give us a chance to come back.”
It was by far the worst start of Montgomery’s Rangers tenure. Since being acquired at the Deadline, he went 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA over five starts (four quality starts). In 31 1/3 innings entering Saturday, he struck out 30 batters while walking just five. Montgomery didn’t have that against the Twins, as it was just the second time in his 136 career appearances that he didn’t record a strikeout.
“I just couldn't catch a break,” Montgomery said. “I don't think they were really barreling those balls up, but I have to get out of it. I have to stop the bleeding and get out of that. … Baseball will get you sometimes. I try to just stay even keeled, and I'll start preparation for the next five days, get back out there and pitch my game.”
Though the Rangers came back to tie the game in the eighth inning, the bullpen’s struggles continued with Aroldis Chapman giving up three runs in the 10th.
The silver lining is that the rest of Texas’ bullpen put the club in position to win the game. Chris Stratton, Martín Pérez, José Leclerc and Will Smith combined for 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball to keep the Rangers within striking distance.
Chapman pitched two-thirds of a clean ninth inning before coming back out for the 10th. He failed to record an out in extra innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) on two hits, a walk and a wild pitch.
“He went out there and just lost a little bit there, too,” Bochy said of Chapman. “He's one of our guys, our eighth-, ninth-inning guys. That's the guy we wanted out there. … [The rest of the bullpen] did a really good job. They passed the baton on very well. These are the guys that got us here, and like I said, they all threw well. Chapman had a couple of days off, and he said he was good to go. He felt fine and just kind of lost it there a little bit.”
Texas is now 3-12 in its past 15 games as its slide in the standings continues. Five of those losses have come at the hands of Minnesota, and four of them have come in extra innings. The Rangers have held the lead at one point in each of their past four losses and in five of their past six losses.
“We can't panic or anything,” Montgomery said. “We believe we're a good team, and we’ve just got to get back to playing good baseball.”