Diamondbacks’ Jordan Montgomery searching for answers after ‘stinker’ vs. Giants

Jun 5, 2024, 6:13 PM | Updated: 6:19 pm

Jordan Montgomery...

Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first inning pitch against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on June 05, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks set a dubious record in Wednesday’s 9-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants that snapped a four-game winning streak.

Arizona pitchers, beginning with starter Jordan Montgomery, threw 220 pitches, a franchise high for a nine-inning game. The previous record was 216 in 2017.

Montgomery did not have many words to describe his outing, which lasted only six outs with six earned runs. But the frustration and guilt were clear for a veteran pitcher going through a tough stretch. His ERA climbed to 6.80.

“You just feel like a piece of crap every day you show up,” Montgomery said. “The team is on a four-game winning streak and I feel like every time I go out there, we lose. So just keep trying to be better.”

His start was uneventful at first with two scoreless innings. But it fell apart in the third.

Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos hit a two-run shot to center, and former Diamondback Wilmer Flores hit a grand slam to go up 6-0. Flores’ home run was the only Montgomery curveball the Giants (30-33) put in play.

“The homer to Ramos was a changeup that didn’t get where we were going, the same thing with the grand slam,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “It happens, feels like things aren’t really going our way when he’s out there in terms of misses that a lot more times than not get hit to people or present weak contact.”

Lovullo brought the hook after seven straight Giants reached base.

Montgomery received boos from the Chase Field crowd as he walked off the mound.

The lefty has allowed six earned runs in back-to-back starts for the first time his career.

He’s allowed six runs three times in nine outings with the D-backs (29-33) after signing for $25 million. The Diamondbacks are 5-1 in his other starts.

“It’s mostly the command, probably the command of his sinker, and the split-change is a really big pitch for him,” Lovullo said. “Curveball speaks for itself. Everybody who has a good curveball is going to be able to get some swing-and-miss on it. But that sinker and the split-change are two big pitches. He just can’t seem to get that change where he wants it and be consistent with the fastball command.”

Montgomery missed spring training by waiting until the season started to sign with a club, but he said that is not an excuse for what is happening.

He has been one of the game’s most dependable starters for the past three years, and this is as frustrated as he has been.

“Baseball’s definitely got me in the furnace right now,” Montgomery said. “So just got to be a good teammate and keep working hard try and get out of it. … Stick to your strengths and make pitches. I just gotta find some rhythm and be able to rip the ball forward.”

Montgomery’s velocity was higher than his season average on Wednesday but remains well down from the past, averaging 91.6 mph on the sinker compared to 93.3 mph in 2023. Montgomery said he is physically stronger than he’s been and he’s searching for it.

Assistant general manager Mike Fitzgerald before the game told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke the velocity was getting closer to normal but the execution has been lagging.

“He did a really good job last year of owning that arm-side edge with both the sinker and the changeup,” Fitzgerald said. “When we see all three of those things (velocity, movement and execution) start to click, I think we’re gonna get that 2023 version of Jordan Montgomery.”

The Diamondbacks are counting on Montgomery getting through this.

Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez all being on the injured list pushes a much younger rotation to the forefront. The less experienced arms have kept the D-backs competitive in their latest starts. Brandon Pfaadt is eighth in MLB in innings and has a 3.09 FIP.

This is the time the D-backs need length from Montgomery, and confidence remains that will come.

“I trust Jordan. We trust him as a team,” Barnhart said. “I know there’s so much more in there. Don’t doubt that it’ll be there soon.”

“We’re going to continue to coach him up and push him in the right direction. That’s all we know how to do here,” Lovullo said.

The pitch counts were high for the bullpen, as well, and the game lasted 3:30.

Logan Allen did a nice job picking up the pieces and grinding through three scoreless innings, to preserve much of the bullpen. But he finished with 75 pitches.

Bryce Jarvis escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs — Eugenio Suarez made a web gem at third base to prevent at least a run — and he threw 34 pitches in two innings. Brandon Hughes tossed 50 pitches in two innings and allowed three runs that put the game out of reach late. Overall, the Giants earned 10 walks to go along with 14 hits.

“We’ve got to be better than that,” Lovullo said of the franchise record. “That was a long day … Name of the game is execution and we’ve got to be able to throw far fewer pitches than that.”

Offensively, the Diamondbacks clawed back into striking distance despite falling behind 6-1.

Joc Pederson walked with the bases loaded to cut the deficit to 6-2 in the fourth. Pavin Smith homered in the fifth as part of a three-hit day.

But the D-backs finished 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Ketel Marte, Christian Walker and Gabriel Moreno were each given rest days out of the lineup.

Blaze Alexander had his fourth multi-hit performance in five games, while Lourdes Gurriel Jr. extended his hit streak to eight games and RBIs streak to five games.

Diamondbacks hit the road

The D-backs head to San Diego for four games against the Padres, starting Thursday at 6:40 p.m.

Slade Cecconi is probable for the D-backs in the series opener.

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