PHILADELPHIA — Remember that seven-game winning streak the Yankees carried into South Philly on Wednesday night?
A loss in the first of two games that evening killed the run but a nightcap win put the Yankees in a position to cop two of three from Joe Girardi’s Phillies at Citizens Bank Park before flying to St. Petersburg, Fla., to start a four-game series over three days against the pesky Rays.
That chance started to evaporate early when Jordan Montgomery gave up a three-run homer to J.T. Realmuto in the first inning Thursday night and moved toward disappearing in the third when Phil Gosselin provided a two-run double after the Yankees had cut the deficit to a run in the second frame.
So, a starting lineup that didn’t have Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu, who were being rested by manager Aaron Boone until late-inning pinch-hit cameos, wasn’t able to overcome the early ditch Montgomery placed it in on the way to a 5-4 loss.
In his second start of the season Montgomery gave up five runs and six hits in four innings. Two 1-2 pitches were his biggest sins. Realmuto hit the first one for a three-run homer in the opening inning, and Gosselin made Montgomery pay with a similar pitch in the third when he doubled in two runs.
Mike Tauchman, who hit in LeMahieu’s leadoff spot, singled in two runs against Zach Eflin in the second, but the Yankees didn’t bat with a runner in scoring position again until the seventh.
Nothing in Gary Sanchez’s first two at-bats indicated he was ready to break out of a very deep slump, since he was caught looking in the second with two runners on and took a called strike for the final out in the fourth. Sanchez started the game 2-for-27 (.074) with 16 strikeouts.
However, Sanchez’s two-run homer to right field off right-hander Nick Pivetta with Gio Urshela on second in the seventh reduced the Phillies’ lead to 5-4.
When Giancarlo Stanton’s soft pop-up to right field dropped for a one-out double in the eighth and he moved to third on the struggling Gleyber Torre’s grounder to the left side, the Yankees had the potential tying run at the plate in Judge, who was hitting for Brett Gardner.
Girardi replaced the left-handed Jose Alvarez with right-hander Hector Neris, and he fanned Judge on an 85 mph splitter to keep the one-run lead intact.
LeMahieu hit for Tyler Wade in the ninth and kept the Yankees alive with a two-out single up the middle and moved into scoring position on Mike Tauchman’s flair single to left. But that threat died on the warning track in center when Roman Quinn gloved Luke Voit’s bid for a home run to end the game.
Trailing, 5-3, in the fourth Gardner led off with a soft single to center and was on the move with the count full on Urshela. He took a pitch that appeared to be down and off the plate only to have Will Little call it a strike. Realmuto’s perfect throw to second caught Gardner attempting to steal the base for the second out. Sanchez then struck out looking for the second time in three innings.
Just as it did in the first inning when the Phillies took a 3-0 lead Montgomery got punished for a 1-2 off-speed pitch that resulted in Gosselin driving the offering into deep center for a two-run double that upped the hosts’ lead to 5-2.
With two outs, Torres at the plate and the bases empty, a few people outside the park but able to look through a center field gate on 10th Street were sounding a horn just as Elfin unleashed two pitches to Torres. The second one resulted in a soft fly to right that extended Torres’ slump to 2-for-25.
Boone talked to the umpires about the situation, and while the Phillies batted in the home third the small group chanted, “Boone, you suck.’’ The horn playing was muted at the beginning of the next frame.
The Yankees scored twice in the second to trim the Phillies’ lead to 3-2 and had help doing it.
Gardner reached via a shift-beating bunt to the left side with one out before Urshela hit a grounder that was fielded by Eflin and had a good chance of being turned into an inning-ending double play. Instead, Eflin was slightly off-balance while throwing to second and the ball sailed and went off Scott Kingery’s glove and the Yankees had first and second and one out.
Montgomery’s first-inning miseries began with a one-out walk to Rhys Hoskins and was followed by Bryce Harper’s single to right that put runners on first and second for Realmuto.
Montgomery got ahead of Realmuto, 1-2, before watching an 81 mph pitch land beyond the left-field wall and provide the Phillies with a 3-0 cushion.
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