Cubs’ Mike Montgomery won’t say, ‘I told you so,’ but pitching speaks for itself
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NEW YORK — Maybe the Cubs could have saved some of those big bucks they spent on starting pitchers over the winter after all.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery tried to make that case in December. He’s not saying much six months later, but his results are starting to suggest, ‘‘I told you so.’’
‘‘These last two starts, I don’t think we’ve seen him that good that many consecutive innings,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘We’ve seen him good. This is about as high a level as he can pitch.’’
Montgomery joined the Cubs’ rotation last Monday in Pittsburgh after $126 million newcomer Yu Darvish went on the disabled list (triceps). The Cubs won both his starts during their two-city road trip, with Montgomery allowing a combined one run and four hits in 11 2/3 innings, including six in a 7-1, 14-inning victory Saturday against the Mets. He struck out nine and walked one in those starts.
Montgomery stopped short of saying he’s on a mission after getting his first chance to start since saying publicly over the winter that he wanted out of his relief/sixth-starter role and wanted a chance to win a starting job.
‘‘I think I’m just focused, and I really love getting this opportunity to start,’’ said Montgomery, who trained during the offseason for a starting role and started preparing again last month when his first anticipated start was scuttled because of a rainout. ‘‘I think it just really comes down to not trying to do too much. I’m just attacking the zone, getting ahead of guys and trying to pitch deep into the game.’’
Montgomery has no idea how long this stretch in the rotation will last. Darvish is expected to start throwing Monday or Tuesday for the first time since going on the DL.
Maddon said he doesn’t anticipate Montgomery finding a way to keep his starting job once the original five-man crew is at full health again. He might, however, be inserted as an occasional sixth starter in the second half.
‘‘Look, if I’m good, I think there’ll be opportunities for me to pitch,’’ Montgomery said. ‘‘It’s a long year. . . . I’m just going to stay focused with where I’m at right now and don’t get complacent and don’t worry about how many more starts there’ll be or if I’m going back to the bullpen.’’
Javy Baez’s pinch-hit home run in the 14th inning Saturday was his fifth career homer in the 12th inning or later. Only four players in history have more: Willie Mays (nine), Albert Pujols (six) and Jack Clark (six).
‘‘We were yelling at Joe: ‘It took you that long to put him in? If he was just going to do that, we would have been out of here a long time ago,’ ’’ said center fielder Albert Almora Jr., who put the Cubs ahead with a two-run double earlier in the inning.
This and that
Because of the marathon game Saturday, three of the first four batters in the Cubs’ lineup in the first three games of the series were out of the lineup Sunday: Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Maddon said he originally had planned only to give Rizzo the day off.
• Baez started at third base and Tommy La Stella at second, but the fielders flipped spots early in the game to have the better-fielding Baez positioned where the Cubs anticipated Mets hitters pulling the ball. Baez then took over for Addison Russell at shortstop in the sixth, with Zobrist entering at second.