The first walk-off of the season was long overdue.
Catcher Miguel Montero waited until the final day of April for his first career walk-off home run and, if anything, lifted the Diamondbacks temporarily out of their misery.
Montero’s lead-off blast in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Arizona a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rockies before 19,135 Wednesday night in Chase Field.
Montero’s heroics were set up when Martin Prado singled in two with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth. Prado’s hit up the middle scored A. J. Pollock and Chris Owings and tied the score at 4-4. Prado’s hit help send the D-backs to their third extra inning victory this season in as many games.
“I was not trying to do too much but trying to launch it,” Montero said. “When you swing hard, results are bad. Really, I wasn’t thinking at all and just tried to get a good swing.”
Montero ripped a 1-2 fastball from Rockies’ reliever Tommy Kahnle over the right field fence and gave the Diamondbacks some breathing room.
“We needed this one,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “Nice to see Montero come through. He’s made some recent adjustments and they have paid off. We had the right guy in there at that situation in the 10th inning.”
Despite falling behind 4-0 early, D-backs’ starter Josh Collmenter settled down and kept his team in the game. Over the initial three innings, Collmenter was rocked for four runs and five extra-base hits. A two-run homer from former Diamondback Carlos Gonzalez gave Colorado an quick 2-0 lead in the first and the Rox added a pair in the third.
Over his final 3.2 innings, Collmenter retired 14 of his the last 15 hitters he faced and gave the Diamondbacks an attempt to gain ground.
“Pitching is about a big-time feel and how you feel at any one time,” Collmenter said afterward. “Early in the game, I wasn’t feeling it and many pitches were high. They jumped on several of those but I was able to settle down. After the first three innings, the ball felt smoother and was coming out of my hand better.”
The victory brought the D-backs’ season mark to 9-22, still worst in the majors, but improved their home record to 3-13, including two defeats to the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia.
Despite the first team in the majors to reach 20 loses, spirits remain positive.
“Good win for the team and a good way to end April,” Collmenter added. “We hope this gets things rolling in May.”
On Wednesday, the Diamondbacks made a roster move.
The team sent reserve outfielder Roger Kieschnick to Triple A Reno and called up outfielder Ender Inciatre.
The trademark with Inciatre is speed. Tabbed by Baseball America as the Diamondbacks’ “Fastest Baserunner” and “Best Outfield Arm,” the 23-year-old native of Maracaibo, Venezuela was hitting .312 (34-for-109) at Reno, 22 runs scored, 12 RBIs and seven stolen bases in nine attempts.
For his part, Kieschnick appeared in four games for Arizona and was 0-for-7.
“Roger struggled here and was over-matched,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Wednesday’s home game with the Rockies. “I put him in tough situations so by sending him to Reno, he’ll have some relief.”
As a result of Wednesday’s win to the Rockies, the Diamondbacks are now 9-22.
That includes 6-7 on the road and 3-13 at Chase Field and 3-15 counting two loss to the Dodgers in Australia. The difficult start has weighted on manager Kirk Gibson.
“So far, this team has underachieved,” he said. “We’re much better than we’ve shown. Look, I’ve never been a good loser and it’s been tough on everyone. You have to stay positive. What’s the alternative?”
For the first time, Gibson began talking about circumstances in the past-tense. Referencing his career as a player, coach and manager, Gibson said the game of baseball has been very good to him and retains great memories.
Yet, he said the conversation needs to be upbeat and put in the future.
“This team continues to be positive,” he said. “You would like to see them rewarded by their work ethic. Right now, we’re losing by many different ways and it’s deflating. But, it’s something we have to overcome.”
The Diamondbacks now embark on a three city, nine-game road trip.
First stop is San Diego.
On Friday night, Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 7.77 ERA) opens the trip against Padres’ right-hander Andrew Cashner (2-3, 2.68). Among those facing Arroyo, San Diego third baseman Chase Headley is a career .292 hitter (7-for-24) with two home runs. Headley is currently on the Padres’ disabled list with a strained left calf muscle.
On Saturday, Brandon McCarthy (0-5, 5.54) takes on former Diamondback Ian Kennedy (2-3, 3.16 ERA). Martin Prado has the most lifetime at-bats against Kennedy and a career average of .267 (5-for-14).
In the Sunday finale, Wade Miley (2-3, 5.36) opposes right-hander Tyson Ross (3-3, 3,68).
Then, it’s on to Milwaukee for three and then three with the White Sox in Chicago over Mother’s Day weekend.
The D-backs return to Chase Field May 12-18 to face Matt Williams and the Washington Nationals for three and the Dodgers for three.
The San Diego-Milwaukee-Chicago road trip also marks the start of 15 of the Diamondbacks next 21 games away from Chase Field.