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May 12, 2024 8:54 am

Reds’ Frankie Montas back on familiar turf vs. Giants

frankie montas

Frankie Montas will go up against old friends, and even an old fan, when the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants complete a three-game series across the bay from the right-hander’s old stomping grounds in Oakland on Sunday afternoon.

Matt Chapman, one of Montas’ former teammates with the Oakland Athletics, played a leading role in squaring the series at a game apiece Saturday. He belted a first-inning grand slam that stood up as the margin of victory in a 5-1 Giants win.

The Reds took the series opener 4-2 on Friday.

Montas (2-3, 3.55 ERA) was one of manager Bob Melvin’s top pitchers from 2017-21, helping the A’s reach the postseason from 2018-20. He went 35-30 with a 3.70 ERA in five-plus seasons with the A’s, including 13-9 with a 3.37 ERA in 2021, when he finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

Melvin left after that season to take an offer from the San Diego Padres — he now manages the Giants — while Montas was dealt midway through the 2022 season to the New York Yankees. He signed a free-agent deal with the Reds in the offseason.

Montas, 31, has pitched brilliantly in two previous head-to-heads with the Giants, allowing just two runs and four hits in 12 innings. He did not get a decision in either game while compiling a 1.50 ERA.

Sunday’s start will be his second since he came off the injured list, placed there after getting hit on the right forearm with a comebacker. The painful experience, as well as last year’s shoulder surgery, are now in the past, and he said he is focused on helping the Reds turn around the season amid nine losses in 10 games.

“The only thing we can do is continue to go out there and try to put up a quality start,” he said. “We still have a lot of time in the season to let guys figure out how to get out of a slump.”

Giants left-hander Kyle Harrison (3-1, 3.20), who is set to start Sunday, graduated from De La Salle High in the Oakland suburb of Concord. The prep star often attended A’s home games down the road, watching as Montas, Chapman, Melvin & Co. were making their postseason runs.

Selected out of high school in the 2020 draft by the team across the San Francisc Bay, Harrison quickly pitched his way into the majors, where he recorded his first big-league win at home against the Reds in his second career start last Aug. 28. He struck out the first five batters he faced that night, finishing with 11 in 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 win.

Harrison hasn’t gotten a decision in six home starts since and will take the mound Sunday never having lost at Oracle Park, going 1-0 with a 2.97 ERA.

The 22-year-old has been on a nice roll over his past three games, limiting the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies to a total of one run and 12 hits in 18 innings. The stretch has lowered his ERA from 5.00 to 3.20.

Harrison said he’s now inspired by his own teammates, including Logan Webb, who led the majors in innings pitched last season.

“That’s something that I want to be,” he said of being an innings-eater. “I came up last year and saw Logan and all these guys doing that. So that’s something that I kind of wanted to get to.”

–Field Level Media

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