ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Texas Rangers went out and got arms at the MLB trade deadline, and that move paid off in a big way on Tuesday afternoon inside Tropicana Field.
While all MLB eyes were lighting up at the thought of Texas acquiring Max Scherzer from the New York Mets, it was Jordan Montgomery, a pickup from the St. Louis Cardinals, who was the star of the show in the first game of the American League Wild Card series here in St. Petersburg.
Jordan Montgomery stars for Texas Rangers in Wild Card win over Tampa Bay Rays
Montgomery threw 7.0 innings of shutout ball, limiting the dangerous Tampa Bay Rays to just six hits in a 4-0 victory. The 30-year-old southpaw not only was stellar with his arm, but also flashed his glove as well with a key defensive play in the second inning. With runners on first and third, Montgomery sacrificed his body to catch a popup off the bat of Jose Siri and let the air out of the Trop.
"He looked like a cat," Texas catcher Jonah Heim said. "I thought Nate (Lowe, first baseman) was going to catch it, then I saw Jordan diving out of nowhere. The out was made. Nobody got hurt. All is good."
Montgomery was checked by a trainer and manager Bruce Bochy after making the catch, and there were some tense moments on the Rangers bench as Montgomery threw pitches to test his body. However, he showed little sign of any injury, striking out Rene Pinto to end the inning, one of five whiffs he racked up on the day.
"It was really special tonight," shortstop Corey Seager said of Montgomery's outing. "Monty's been really good for us all year and to make a start like that, on the road against a lineup like that, it's pretty special."
While Montgomery was limiting the Rays offense, Seager and the Texas offense was doing what they needed to do to grab the momentum early and keep it. Josh Jung's second-inning sacrifice fly gave Texas a quick 1-0 lead and Seager would cap the scoring in the sixth inning with an RBI single.
As we discussed in our series preview article, Seager shines when the postseason hits, and Tuesday was no different as he went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. He was one of three Rangers to get two hits on the day, including rookie Evan Carter, who also walked twice to become the sixth-youngest player to reach base four times in postseason history.
Texas will try to finish off the series on Wednesday afternoon at 3:08 p.m. (ET) with Nathan Eovaldi scheduled to go against Tampa Bay's Zach Eflin.