Montgomery worked 22/3 scoreless innings against the Indians on Tuesday, and he got Mike Napoli to ground out with the bases loaded.
CLEVELAND — Mike Montgomery might still believe in his heart that he’s a starting pitcher, but he knows he has found success in his relief role for the Mariners.
Converted to a reliever midway through spring training with Charlie Furbush sidelined because of a shoulder injury, Montgomery has been a pleasant surprise for a Mariners bullpen that has been better than expected early in the season.
On Tuesday night against the Indians, Montgomery stepped into an unenviable situation — two outs, the bases loaded and the dangerous Mike Napoli at the plate. Earlier in the game, Napoli had drilled a line-drive double. Despite a 20-mph wind, he hit the ball hard enough to get to the wall.
But Montgomery got Napoli to ground out in a six-pitch battle, ending the inning.
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“It was definitely a different situation for me,” he said. “But I know in that spot, I’ve got to come in and come right at him. I kind of kept that mentality the whole way through. I knew I needed to eat up some innings for us, and I felt good and was able to get some ground balls and stuff. It went pretty well.”
Montgomery worked 22/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit with one walk and one strikeout.
“He threw the ball really well,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s got to come in and make a pitch against a very good hitter. We needed to get out of it to have a chance in that game, and he did a good job there. I’m real happy with where Mike’s at right now.”
Montgomery has made five appearances this season and allowed runs in just one — a shaky outing vs. the Rangers in which he gave up four runs in two innings. His other outings have been clean. Servais trusts Montgomery to pitch in any situation.
“He’s getting a routine on how to get loose and trying to anticipate when he’s coming in the game and who’s he going to face,” Servais said. “There’s all those mental things that go along with the physical. But he certainly looks the part. The stuff has ticked up as well.”
Marte making adjustments
Shortstop Ketel Marte got the day off Wednesday, as Luis Sardinas started in his place.
Marte has struggled at the plate, hitting .186 with no extra-base hits and a .250 on-base percentage.
“I know (hitting coach) Edgar has spent a lot of time trying to get him to help out his timing a little bit,” Servais said. “He continues to try to make some adjustments. He just really hasn’t gotten in a good groove yet. We obviously saw it in spring training when he got going pretty good. He’s not quite there consistently yet, but he’s going to be fine. He’s just a young player, getting off to a slow start, and it gives an opportunity for Sardinas to get in there (Wednesday).”