MILWAUKEE -- The Yankees spent most of July and the first two days of August scouring the market to strengthen their chances of a deep run through October. So far, it can be argued, none of those Trade Deadline moves have built confidence in that regard. Frankie Montas knows he hasn’t pitched to expectations, but he says there is still time on the clock.
Montas squandered an early five-run lead, handing the ball to the bullpen in the fourth inning. Isiah Kiner-Falefa committed a crucial error in the eighth, and Clay Holmes watched the Brewers walk it off in the ninth, with the Yankees absorbing a tough 7-6 loss on Friday evening at American Family Field.
“I haven’t really performed how I wanted to perform,” Montas said. “I’ll keep trying, going out there and just trying to do my best. I want to show how I can pitch. To be honest, I’m not really worried about it. I know what I can do and what I’m capable of doing.”
The Yankees have had a few much-needed laughers of late, helping steady their ship after a dismal August. Having won four straight and eight of 10 as they arrived in Milwaukee, they seemed on course to coast toward another easy "W," peppering Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser for five runs through two innings.
Willy Adames put the Brewers back into the game with a three-run homer off Montas in the second inning. In the fourth, Montas issued a walk to No. 9 hitter Garrett Mitchell, who’d later stroke the winning hit off Holmes.
It was the 79th and final pitch tossed by Montas, who watched from the dugout as Adames smoked a run-scoring double and Rowdy Tellez lifted a game-tying sacrifice fly off Lucas Luetge. Montas is 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA through eight starts as a Yankee, having permitted 28 earned runs and 46 hits in 39 2/3 innings.
Despite those ugly numbers, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the right-hander is still considered the club’s No. 2 starter.
“We need him,” Boone said. “He’ll be back out there. He’s slated to go against the Red Sox. We’ve got to get him moving in a good direction and build some momentum.”
Boone said he believes Montas will resume dictating counts and replicate the 3.18 ERA he’d showcased through 19 starts with Oakland. The Yankees hope the postseason will be a different story -- especially if Montas matches up against the Astros, a team he has pitched well against.
But there are no guarantees, and general manager Brian Cashman’s other Deadline moves of 2022 have yielded mixed results, at best.
Andrew Benintendi, an All-Star in Kansas City, hit .254/.331/.404 in 33 games before sustaining a hand injury, and his return date is uncertain. Lou Trivino has a 1.13 ERA through 19 Yankees appearances, but Scott Effross has been hurt. Harrison Bader is still working toward his Yankees debut, while Jordan Montgomery has been excellent (2.05 ERA) in St. Louis.
“It’s not my first year; I know what I’m capable of when I’m rolling,” Montas said. “Regular season and the playoffs are not the same. The playoffs are like a new start.”
Even with Montas’ early exit, the Yanks had their chances, playing their first game in Milwaukee since Derek Jeter manned shortstop. With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Jonathan Loáisiga induced Adames to hit a grounder to the left side of the infield, a ball that Kiner-Falefa attempted to backhand for a run-scoring error.
“I knew Adames was a good runner, and [I] was getting ready to get rid of it. I just missed it,” Kiner-Falefa said. “It was my fault. I take the blame for this loss tonight.”
Josh Donaldson led off the ninth by clanging a game-tying homer off the left-field foul pole, but Miguel Andújar was rung up on a called third strike that eventually prompted Boone’s ejection; Boone called the pitch “non-competitive.”
In the home half, Holmes permitted a run for his fourth straight game, with Mitchell pounding the deciding knock into center field.
“My command felt pretty good,” Holmes said. “I think it’s just a little more that I have to attack the zone there and trust the weak contact. It was a situation where I was trying to force a ground ball, missing down with some pitches. I just didn’t make a pitch when I needed to.”