October 9, 2020 | 2:47am
There were plenty of questions surrounding Jordan Montgomery entering his start in Thursday’s Game 4 of the ALDS.
It was the first time the left-hander had taken the mound in the postseason. And Montgomery hadn’t pitched since his final start of the regular season on Sept. 24.
Facing a team that knocked him out in the first inning on Sept. 2, Montgomery delivered just what the Yankees needed to prolong their season.
The 27-year-old allowed just one run in four innings — hardly the stuff of Andy Pettitte legend, but it’s 2020 and it was all the Yankees were looking for from Montgomery.
“That was a big-time outing,’’ Aaron Boone said. “He gave us just what we needed to get it to the back end of the pen and made some big pitches when he needed to most.”
Pitching with Kyle Higashioka behind the plate, Montgomery got a double play from Brandon Lowe in the first, cruised through the second before running into trouble in the third.
That’s when Montgomery allowed a leadoff walk to Willy Adames and a ground-rule double to Kevin Kiermaier. Montgomery came back to strike out Mike Zunino in a wild at-bat.
After he got ahead of Zunino 0-2, Montgomery threw three straight pitches in the dirt, all brilliantly blocked by Higashioka before Montgomery finally got Zunino swinging on a 3-2 breaking pitch.
“I wasn’t gonna leave one hanging and let him leave the park,’’ Montgomery said.
Yandy Diaz walked to load the bases and Lowe followed with a chopper to the right side of the infield that scored Adames on the forceout.
Boone kept Montgomery in the game to face the series’ — and maybe the world’s — hottest hitter in Randy Arozerana, and Montgomery got him to ground to third to preserve the one-run lead.
Montgomery remained in the game — no sure thing these days — and pitched around a leadoff single by Ji-Man Choi and a two-out walk to Adames to toss another scoreless inning.
“I would’ve loved for 30,000 fans to be in the stands, but with the season being on the line, this team’s got more fight,’’ Montgomery said.