The Mike Montgomery who dazzled in late June by pitching successive shutouts is nowhere to be seen these days. The fall for the rookie left-hander has been swift and hard.
Friday was the worst yet.
Montgomery lasted just 21/3 innings when the Mariners suffered a 15-1 blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. He gave up nine runs and 10 hits.
It was as bad as it reads.
“I’m just not executing pitches,” Montgomery said. “It’s as simple as that. The more pitches you execute, the better you’re going to do. I just left a lot of balls over the plate. They’re going to get hit here.”
Montgomery spit back three two-out runs in the first inning after being spotted a quick lead on a Kyle Seager homer. The end came in a six-run third inning when Montgomery exited after six straight one-out hits.
The bullpen wasn’t much better.
Boston scored twice in the fifth against David Rollins, got three runs against Mayckol Guaipe in 12/3 innings and one in the eighth against Rob Rasmussen.
Guaipe was optioned after the game to Triple-A Tacoma.
The 15 runs were a season-high against the Mariners, eclipsing a 13-0 loss at Houston on June 14.
Once the game got out of hand, the only item of interest for the Mariners was whether Nelson Cruz could extend his hitting streak. He didn’t.
Cruz went 0 for 3 with a walk in his return to the lineup after a one-plus game absence because of a stiff neck. His career-best streak ended at 21 games.
“No problems with my neck,” he said. “I think my timing was off, but the good thing is I was able to see a lot of pitches. I fouled off a lot of pitches. Maybe tomorrow.”
Some perspective on Montgomery: He was 4-2 with a 1.62 ERA through seven starts after beating Oakland on July 5 in his first outing following those two dominating shutout victories.
Since then: 0-3 in seven starts — the Mariners have lost all seven games — while allowing 29 earned runs and 45 hits in 322/3 innings. That translates to a 7.99 ERA. His overall totals: 4-5 and a 4.14 ERA.
“It’s really not hard to analyze,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “If you look at the films, you see a lot of balls waist-high and middle of the plate. Up out over the plate. Just no deception at all.
“Big-league hitters are not going to miss those pitches. You have to work down in the zone. And you’ve got to work in and out. He just didn’t do that.”
McClendon hinted recently that Montgomery was already nearing the tape on his 2015 workload. Montgomery has already pitched more innings this year than in either of the last two seasons.
At most, Montgomery figures to get only two or three more starts. Even so, McClendon and Montgomery each dismissed fatigue as the reason for his recent slide.
“I was just executing pitches a lot better at times earlier,” Montgomery said. “That’s what it comes back down to: Go out there and execute the most pitches that you can. … I feel all right.”
Boston’s blowout victory came a few hours after Red Sox manager John Farrell took a leave of absence to undergo treatment for stage 1 lymphoma, which he described as “localized and highly curable.”
Bench coach Torey Lovullo will serve as interim manager through the end of the season.
The Mariners struck first when Seager tomahawked a 1-2 fastball from Boston starter Joe Kelly for a one-out homer in the first inning. No. 17 of the year for Seager.
Montgomery’s problems in the first started with a two-out walk to Xander Bogaerts, who scored when David Ortiz lashed a 1-2 fastball for an RBI double into the right-center gap.
Rusney Castillo followed with a 396-foot homer into the Boston bullpen near the triangle in right-center field. The Red Sox led 3-1.
Boston blew open the game with a six-run third inning.
Ortiz and Castillo had one-out singles, and both scored on Pablo Sandoval’s double into the left-center gap. Travis Shaw followed with a two-run homer. And it was 7-1.
SATURDAY: Seattle (RHP Felix Hernandez: 14-6, 3.11 ERA) at Boston (LHP Wade Miley: 8-9, 4.68), 10:35 a.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM