PHOENIX — Miguel Montero was not feeling all that great Friday, but it was difficult to tell. Montero had one of his best games in what has been a difficult season, although it was not enough to get the Diamondbacks past the Rockies.
Montero shortened his stroke after a talk with manager Kirk Gibson in Los Angeles earlier in the week, and it served him well. He reached base all five times in a 7-5 loss, finishing with two singles, two walks and a three-run home run with two outs in the last of the ninth inning. While Colorado was far enough ahead to weather the homer, it might be the kind of night that Montero can build on as the D-backs (73-73) fight against long odds while trying for the playoffs.
“Today was one of those days that the body didn’t feel really good today, and that kind of helped out because when the body is kind of down, kind of slo-mo, it helps you not to overswing and not to overdo things. That was one of the reasons. Hopefully I will feel the same tomorrow.”
The simplified approach included a shorter swing.
“I just tried to choke up a little bit, going out there and just trying to play pepper. Just trying to see the ball and not try to do too much with it. I’ve been seeing the ball good. I think that is the problem. I see it so good I just want to kill it,” Montero said.
Montero walked in the second and fifth innings and and singled in the fourth and seventh. His last single went to left field, always a good sign since Montero is at his best when he is using the whole field.
“I talked to Miggy the last day in L.A.,” Gibson said. “Talked about some things, and he made a little adjustment. He was really good today, really locked in. Nice and short, didn’t try to do too much with it.”
Montero is hitting .239 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs, decent numbers but ones that he would have surpassed by this point in the previous two full seasons, when he averaged 16 1/2 homers and 87 RBIs, making the All Star team in 2011.
His home run in the ninth inning off the Rockies’ Manny Corpas came on a deep fly to right field.
“It was a pitch right there. I wasn’t even trying to hit a homer. I had a good feeling about myself at the plate, even if I was behind in the count,” Montero said.
Montero entered the season as the only catcher in the last 40 years to lead the majors in both innings caught and RBIs, but a stint on the disabled list because of a lower back strain last month caused that streak to break.
Still, a strong finish could be something to take forward. He has 16 hits in his last 47 at-bats, a .340 batting average.
“It would be nice. Go home and feel good about yourself the way you finish the season,” said.
The Rockies did their damage against the D-backs’ bullpen, which has pitched well of late. They scored five runs in the seventh inning off Will Harris, Tony Sipp and Chaz Roe to break a 2-all tie and take control.
The inning started when leadoff hitter Corey Dickerson hit a double down the right-field line on a pitch that bounced in front of the plate.
D-backs starter Brandon McCarthy had his first career hit and gave up 11, but the disparity was not as big as it might appear. McCarthy excelled at damage control while limiting the Rockies to two runs in six innings, although he was disappointed he could not go deeper into the game.
Colorado might not have scored off him at all, but Adam Eaton slipped and went to one knee as he attempted to catch Wilin Rosario’s fly to short center with runners on second and third and two outs in the first inning. Eaton had the ball in his glove momentarily after a lunging try before it came loose.
McCarthy has given up zero, four, one and two earned runs in his last four starts. If not for an Edwin Encarnacion two-run homer in the ninth inning of a complete-game, 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Sept. 2, all would have been quality.
“It’s one of those situations where you could be a little more wild,” McCarthy said. “A lot of those (hits) were with two outs. They weren’t hit necessarily very well, but you want to do something where you give yourself a swing and a miss or even worse contact.”