Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery will try to cap his dominant August for the St. Louis Cardinals with a win when they face the streaking Atlanta Braves Saturday.
The Braves won 11-4 on Friday in the opener of their three-game road series at Busch Stadium for their 15th victory in their past 17 games. The Cardinals lost for just the third time in their past 13 games.
Montgomery (7-3, 3.08 ERA) is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA in his first four starts since arriving from the New York Yankees in a trade for center fielder Harrison Bader.
“I’m just starting to relax a little bit more, trust my stuff and just kind of whip it in there,” Montgomery told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just have faith in my stuff. I’m going to throw my stuff and you’re going to hit a sinker into the ground.”
Montgomery threw a one-hitter in his most recent start, a 1-0 complete game victory over the Chicago Cubs. He struck out seven, walked nobody and retired 27 batters on 99 pitches.
“He was in complete control of that entire game,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He’s here to make a point. Just the way he goes about the days in between and then when he takes the bump – you can tell he’s on a mission.”
Montgomery has clicked with catcher Yadier Molina and flourished in the Cardinals’ pitching-focused environment.
“I’ve been a good pitcher my whole career,” Montgomery said. “I expect a lot out of myself, I think my stuff plays no matter how many times they’ve seen me, and you can always count on me competing.”
Montgomery is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against the Braves. Marcell Ozuna (2-for-3, homer, three RBIs), Robbie Grossman (3-for-7, two doubles, RBI), Travis d’Arnaud (2-for-4, double) and Matt Olson (2-for-6, homer) have hit well against him.
The Braves will counter Montgomery with Charlie Morton (6-5. 3.99 ERA), who also has been outstanding this month.
Morton struck out 23 batters in 12 2/3 innings in his past two starts. He allowed just two runs on eight hits and three walks during that span.
“Even when I’m struggling, I’m fortunate because I still feel like I have the tools to do well,” Morton said. “It’s just putting it together, innings together and at-bats together. I really do feel better now than I used to. I feel better now than when I was in my late-20s and early 30s.”
The 38-year-old Morton did not face the Cardinals earlier this season when the teams played in Atlanta. In his career, he is 3-12 with a 5.23 ERA in 19 starts against them.
Corey Dickerson (8-for-18, two homers, three RBIs) and Yadlier Molina (10-for-31, four doubles, seven RBIs) have hit well against Morton in their careers.
Nolan Arenado, who is just 2-for-16 against Morton, could miss this game while on paternity leave. Juan Yepez was promoted from Triple-A Memphis Friday to replace him.
The Cardinals also brought closer Ryan Helsley back from the restricted list Friday and demoted reliever Packy Naughton to Memphis to make room for him.
–Field Level Media