Ex-Mariner, Mike Montgomery Wins The World Series For Cubs

Jul 17, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Mike Montgomery (37) throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 17, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Mike Montgomery (37) throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Last night, Mariners fans probably felt a warmth rush over them as the Cubs won the World Series in the tenth inning of game seven. That feeling came from knowing that former Mariners pitcher, Mike Montgomery came to the mound and only needed two pitches to break the one-hundred-eight-year old curse the Chicago Cubs have been under, preventing them from winning it all.

When the Mariners traded away Mike Montgomery for the young, bulky prospect, Dan Vogelbach, it was impossible to tell how Montgomery would fair in the windy city. It turned out, that during his sixteen regular season appearances, Montgomery was giving the Cubs much of what he gave the Mariners: inconsistency.

In that short span from mid-July through September, Montgomery had clear streaks. He allowed a run in his first three outings with the Cubs. Montgomery followed that up with four games in which he then didn’t give up a run. He even struck out a total of ten men in that time.

However, it was no surprise to Mariners fans when Montgomery again hit a rough patch. This time he allowed a run in five straight games, including surrendering three runs in back-to-back performances. But he had one more switcharoo in him before the playoffs.

Montgomery finished the 2016 regular season off strong boasting five consecutive shutout outings. Over those final five games, the left-hander only gave up three hits in 4.2 innings.

Then it was finally time for the games that would help define Montgomery’s blossoming career: the all-important playoff match-ups. In just his second season in the big leagues, Montgomery was about to get his shot on the biggest stage he had ever played on.

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Montgomery got his first playoff opportunity in the Cubs second playoff game of the season: game two of the NLDS. He was excellent. He pitched 1.1 innings, striking out one and giving up one hit. He would get his next shot two days later in game three of the NLDS.

It was a wild back-and-forth game with a handful of dramatic moments. The game would eventually go into extra-innings, and that’s when Montogomery was asked to shut the San Fransico Giants down.

Montgomery did an excellent job, scattering a couple of hits over three innings, but in the twelfth, the Giants finally got to him. He allowed back-to-back doubles with no outs in the thirteenth. The later would be a walk-off two-bagger that would put the Giants back into the series, although we know the Cubs would take down the Giants and move on to the NLCS.

In the NLCS Montgomery had a few more chances to showcase his stuff, now on an even bigger stage than the NLDS. In four games, Montgomery went back to his old ways. Sometimes pitching well, other times seeming out of control and unreliable.

Overall, he threw 4.1 innings of baseball allowing five hits, three earned runs (two alone in game three) and walked two men in game two. His ERA would end up being an unimpressive 6.23 when the series was all said and done. But, regardless of Montgomery’s performance, the Cubs moved on to the World Series.

In the World Series, Montgomery was back to quality pitching. He was great again. Over 4.2 innings he spread out four hits allowed and gave up one run. He did give up four walks in five outings, but only one of his walks came back to haunt him.

One of the runners to whom he gave a free pass would eventually score on a sacrifice fly in game four. That run would not impact the game, though, as the Cubs would lose that night 7-2.

But, no outing would be as important as his last.

Few events in sports history held the same weight as game seven of this World Series.

Montgomery had been warming up in the bullpen at different times during the game. Since the Cubs allowed the Cleveland Indians to fight their way back twice, it was unclear if, or when Montgomery would play a role.

It took unsteady outings by Aroldis Chapman and Carl Edwards Jr. for the ex-Mariners pitcher to come to the mound.

With two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Montogomery needed just two pitches to break the over century-long curse. His first curveball looked beautiful, arcing like a rainbow perfectly into the catcher’s glove. His second curve forced an easy groundout that sent the players into jubilation and all of Chicago into euphoria as the final out was recorded.

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Montgomery changed the course of sports history in a few seconds, but Mariners fans will forever be connected with Montgomery’s shining moment, as we all know that the M’s made it possible for this moment to happen.