By John Hickey
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 at 5:57 pm in 2013 regular season.
Luke Montz was just trying to be a good teammate Tuesday night.
A veteran catcher on the roster of the Sacramento River Cats, he was on the bench in Fresno when he and his teammates saw plenty not to like about a series of first inning ball-strike calls against outfielder Michael Choice.
Everybody spoke up, more than once. When the umpire had enough, he pointed to the bench and ejected … well, no one was quite sure who got ejected.
“I just jumped up,’’ Montz said. “I wasn’t in the lineup, so it made sense.’’
Down 2-1 early, the Cats came back for a runaway 10-2 win.
“After the game, everybody was in the clubhouse, thanking me for that,’’ Montz said. “I was just being a good teammate.’’
But not good enough, evidently. He was called into the manager’s office. Montz expected to get chewed out, and he was. For a moment. Then they dropped it on him. He’d been called up to the big leagues.
This was seriously major news. Montz made it to the Major Leagues for 27 days and 10 games in 2008 with Washington, then had never been back. There had been many times when it seemed as if he would not make it back. But after a 29-homer, 74-RBI season with Triple-A New Orleans last year, the A’s brought him in, and now he’s in the big leagues. Again.
“Very much so,’’ Montz said when he was asked if he thought he might never make it back to the top again. “When I found out last night, I was almost like a rookie. I was very emotional. And all the guys (in Sacramento) were really happy for me.’’
Montz flew from Fresno to San Francisco, grabbed his luggage a little before 11 a.m. and commandeered the first taxi he could find.
“I asked how quickly he could get me (to the Coliseum),’’ Montz said. “He asked if I was in the starting lineup. He found out I was and I think he went about 110 (mph). I got here just in time.’’
He contributed an RBI double, scored a run and just missed a two-run homer at the right field wall. The A’s didn’t win, but they got a nice boost from the new kid.
That’s only fitting. He’s gotten a nice boost from them.
–Tommy Milone took the loss to the Angels in Wednesday’s game, but neither he nor the A’s took it as hard as some losses.
For one thing, Milone pitched moderately well. He gave up three homers, but walked no one and struck out 10. And he lasted seven innings, saving a bullpen that had been severely taxed the last few games, throwing 21.1 innings the last three games. Admittedly 5.1 of those innings were thrown by a starter, Brett Anderson, pitching in relief, but still.
“That was something I really wanted to do after the last few games,’’ Milone said. “The bullpen has been through a lot.’’
Milone isn’t used to putting up big strikeout numbers, but Wednesday’s philosophy of getting ahead early in the count worked against a free-swinging Angels’ team.
“I’m never trying to strike them out,’’ he said. “My goal is to get them out as quickly as possible.’’
Manager Bob Melvin credited Milone with saving the bullpen, even if he wound up taking the loss.
“He needed to go deep in the game and he knew it,’’ Melvin said. “It was good to see him go deep, and we only needed two innings out of the bullpen. With the day off tomorrow, we should be good to go on Friday.’’