MLB: New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals

The Yankees lost to the Cardinals Saturday evening in St. Louis, 1-0, and the winning pitcher was making the first start of his MLB career outside of a Yankees uniform. 

It was probably a bit odd to see, but after six years and 98 appearances with the Yankees Jordan Montgomery went out and threw five scoreless innings before being removed as a precautionary measure due to cramping. (It was absurdly hot and humid, so the news wasn't exactly a shock.) 

The lone run of the game actually came in the first inning. NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, who had doubled, scored on a Nolan Arenado single. That was all the Cardinals' pitching staff -- headed up by its newest acquisition -- would need. 

The Cardinals move back into first place alone in the NL Central, taking a one-game lead over the stumbling Brewers. The Cardinals have won a season-high six in a row. 

The bigger story here would be Montgomery and his former team, though. 

One of the last moves to go through on trade deadline day was the Yankees trading lefty Montgomery to the Cardinals. It was a bit of a head scratcher, as the Yankees were looking to trade for starting pitching. (They added Frankie Montas, but were also in on others as Luis Severino is on the 60-day injured list.) And while they got back an interesting player in center fielder Harrison Bader, he is currently in a walking boot and hoping to return sometime in September. 

It's obviously too early to call the move a mistake, but Montgomery made them pay on Saturday and overall the Yankees are in a rut. (Coincidentally, the last time the Yanks lost 1-0 was Aug. 7, 2020, nearly two years to the day, in a road game against the Tampa Bay Rays.)

This loss is their fourth straight and this is now their longest losing streak of the season. It isn't just this streak, either. Going back nearly a month, since the Yankees won on July 8, they've gone 9-15 with three of those wins coming against a lackluster Royals team. Their lead in the AL East is still in double digits, so they don't appear to be in any danger there. The Yanks still have the best record in the AL at 70-38, which means they're still on pace to win 105 games. 

Through that lens, we could point out that ebbs and flows are pretty common through the 162-game grind that is a Major League Baseball season. Even the greatest teams of all time went through lulls, even if they were small ones. 

In looking at the Yankees right now, however, the rotation is thin and the offense is pretty top-heavy -- and probably too reliant on Aaron Judge. The bullpen is struggling to deal with the losses of Chad Green and Michael King while Clay Holmes has been ineffective for a recent stretch. 

Factoring in the above, this stat shouldn't come as a huge surprise: 

The Yankees were 14-4 through June 18 in one-run games (hat-tip to Katie Sharp). Since then, they are 7-11 in such contests. It's a stat that tends to even out over the long haul, or in internet baseball speak, regress to the mean, and that's exactly what appears to be happening. 

To reiterate, this could just be a down stretch, but the trends are certainly worrisome from the Yankees' point of view.