Jordan Montgomery took the mound Friday coming off his worst and shortest outing of the season.
But the southpaw took the lead of the Yankees’ starters in the two previous games to answer with his best and longest appearance of the year.
Montgomery struck out a career-high 11 over seven shutout innings, going toe-for-toe with Carlos Rodon in a pitcher’s duel to help the Yankees beat the White Sox 2-1 in The Bronx.
“That’s more what I expect out of myself,” said Montgomery, who had given up five runs in a three-inning start against the Orioles on Sunday.
After Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter Wednesday and Domingo German followed with seven shutout innings Thursday, Montgomery delivered more of the same. He used a sharp curveball to stymie the White Sox and push the Yankees’ scoreless streak to 29 innings, their longest since 2009, before it was snapped in the eighth inning.
The Yankees needed Montgomery’s strong start. Rodon fanned 13 over six shutout frames. The two lefties combined to pitch the first game in the modern era in which both starters had 10-plus strikeouts with no walks and no runs, according to STATS.
“Montgomery pitched like a Cy Young [winner] tonight,” Gleyber Torres said. “He’s getting better and better.”
The Yankees got two coaches back in the dugout Friday from their COVID-19 quarantines.
Pitching coach Matt Blake and first base coach Reggie Willits, in addition to a few members of the club’s support staff, returned to the team. They had tested positive for the virus during the Yankees’ outbreak last week, despite being fully vaccinated. Blake and Willits joined the shortstop Torres as Yankees personnel with breakthrough cases who have since returned to the team.
Third base coach Phil Nevin, another breakthrough case, has yet to rejoin the Yankees.
In Blake’s and Willits’ absence, they were replaced by bullpen coach Mike Harkey and coordinator of baseball development Mario Garza, respectively.
Giancarlo Stanton, who has been on the injured list since Monday with a left quad strain, worked out on the field before Friday’s game at Yankee Stadium against the White Sox.
“He’s doing better and getting closer,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Encouraged about the progress he’s making.”
The Yankees made his IL stint retroactive to May 14, so Stanton is eligible to be activated in time for the series against the Blue Jays that begins Tuesday.
Zack Britton is nearing a rehab assignment once again after having his first attempt delayed by soreness.
The reliever, who had surgery in March to have a bone chip removed from his left elbow, played catch Friday and could possibly throw a bullpen session on Sunday.
“If all goes well there, he would probably begin his rehab assignment from there,” Boone said.
Britton was originally scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday, but that was scratched when he experienced “a little soreness” after throwing in a simulated game last Saturday.
Even after flying back to New York and being another day removed from Corey Kluber’s no-hitter Wednesday against the Rangers, Gerrit Cole was still gushing about it Friday.
The Yankees ace and pitching aficionado said there has been plenty of talk dissecting the gem, including favorite pitches and at-bats.
“He threw a couple backdoor breaking balls in a row, maybe third at-bat to [Joey] Gallo,” Cole said. “Joey just completely lost where the outside part of the plate was, which is kind of the magic that Corey does and he slipped one in there for strike three.”
Cole also pointed to his favorite at-bat: Nick Solak in the seventh inning, when Kluber set him up with a breaking ball outside for a ball and then fooled him with a changeup for strike three.
“Culmination of a lot of hard work and unique path to get to that situation where he has the opportunity to absolutely just dominate again,” Cole said. “I think we all kind of knew he had it in him. But it’s not a thing until you’ve done it. Just couldn’t be more thrilled for such a great teammate.”