Cards lefty’s 22-inning scoreless streak vs. Chicago ends as he drops 5th straight decision Cardinals News
3:58 AM UTC
CHICAGO — About a month ago, when Cardinals pitcher Jordan Montgomery was reminded how fortunate he had been to get 15 runs of support in his first two starts of 2023, the highly superstitious left-hander literally knocked on the wood portion of his locker to hopefully not jinx himself and keep the run going.
As fate would have it, the run support that Montgomery benefitted from early on evaporated over his next four starts — three of which the Cards were shut out in to ruin his otherwise stellar starts.
On Wednesday night, the fickleness of baseball appeared yet again and led to more frustration for Montgomery in St. Louis’ 10-4 loss to Chicago at Wrigley Field.
The Cardinals swung the bats well early against Cubs ace Justin Steele to give their 6-foot-6 starter an early 2-0 lead. That seemed to bode well for Montgomery, who came into the series finale riding a 22-inning scoreless streak against his team’s biggest rival in the National League Central.
However, that scoreless streak vanished just three innings into the game. Two-run home runs by Patrick Wisdom and Yan Gomes — on pitches that Montgomery uncharacteristically left over the heart of the plate — doomed any chance he had of a victory.
Those were the first home runs allowed by Montgomery against the Cubs in his first 30 2/3 innings against the Cards’ archrivals.
“Baseball is frustrating sometimes,” said Montgomery, who pinpointed a few of the key moments that led to him surrendering six earned runs on seven hits and a season-worst three walks over five innings.
“If that [Seiya] Suzuki double [with two outs in the third] is caught … in a perfect world, I made a pitch there and he should have got out, but that’s just not how it is.
“Baseball will humble you,” Montgomery added with a smirk. “I was a little too good in my last three starts, so I guess this is it evening out. I’ve just got to get back out there in five days [and be better].”
Once 2-0, Montgomery lost for a fifth time in his past six starts. It is the first five-game losing streak of his career for Montgomery, who won his first five starts after being traded from the Yankees to the Cardinals last August. One of those wins was a two-hit shutout of the Cubs.
Montgomery’s struggles on Wednesday led to the Cardinals’ season-best three-game winning streak coming to an end. Still, manager Oliver Marmol was happy that his team won the series and is starting to show signs of becoming the club he thought it would be before getting off to the worst start in the franchise’s past 50 years.
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“I’m proud of that group because they never wavered from wanting to just keep going and believing things would turn around,” Marmol said. “When you lose as many games as we did in April, your clubhouse could get sideways, and it didn’t. Frustrated, yes, but not fractured in any way.
“It would be easy for me to go in that clubhouse and [give a rah-rah speech], but this group doesn’t need to hear me say, ‘Try harder’ or ‘Lock in and we need to focus,'” Marmol added. “Who in there needs to focus more? If there’s a flaw, it’s that they care too much. They need to hear, ‘We’re going to be all right and just stay the course.’
“But that’s hard to do when you continue to lose games in different fashions. It takes a hell of a lot of courage to be patient because you want to do the complete opposite, hit a button, and fix it immediately. But we trust our group.”
Montgomery also trusts himself to be better. He knows the Cardinals’ way back into contention is through a starting staff that must be better. St. Louis starters did not post a quality start its last time through the rotation and it hasn’t had an outing of at least six innings in 10 games.
“I mean, five [innings] with six runs ain’t it,” Montgomery said bluntly, referring to the team needing a better effort out of him. “I hold myself to a pretty high standard and anything under six is a failure to me. I want to go out there and eat up innings.
“[Six innings] is a quality start. You get out of there in six and then you can have your setup guy and closer do the rest,” added Montgomery, who has logged five of the Cards’ seven quality starts this season. “Obviously, I want to get farther than six, but six is me doing my job every time, at the least. That’s my goal.”