Brandon McCarthy was pleased with how he threw the baseball in his second start as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"That was as well as I've thrown a baseball in my professional career without a doubt," he said. "I absolutely felt like I could do whatever I wanted to do."
So why, then, did McCarthy get touched up for six runs (four earned) and 10 hits in 6.2 innings during a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates?
"I just think we got into a routine there that we weren't able to change gears fast enough," he said.
The 'we' in that statement is McCarthy and catcher Miguel Montero, who couldn't seem to get on the same page in terms of pitch selection, especially when they were ahead in the count.
"Too many pitches with two strikes -- we weren't changing things up enough, which I've got to be smart right there and shake and mix things up more the way we did it from the fifth through the seventh inning than we did the first few," McCarthy said.
Montero agreed and took a portion of the blame for the loss.
"I think he threw the ball good," he said. "Probably, I didn't call the right pitches, I'll put it that way. I think I called too many good pitches (to hit) with two strikes and that's probably my fault. I have to make adjustments to it and hopefully next outing be better for me and him working together.
"I can't really blame it on him because it was my fault. I mean I'm the one putting the fingers down and he went with me and trusted me and unfortunately, I guess I didn't have the right fingers today."
The bulk of the trouble happened in the fourth inning. Starling Marte delivered a two-run double on an 0-2 pitch that scored Pedro Alvarez and Travis Walker that cut the D-backs' lead to 4-3. Neil Walker would follow with a two-run single that came on, you guessed it, an 0-2 pitch give the Pirates a 5-4 advantage.
Later in the frame, Garrett Jones singled to right on an 0-2 pitch that scored Walker and gave Pittsburgh a two-run cushion.
"It's been made pretty clear that in the last two where I'm throwing a lot of strikes and the results aren't there, it's because we're not attacking it the right way," McCarthy said. "Just change some more speeds, some more off-speed pitches in there, expand the zone with two strikes -- it's just kind of simple stuff that we've kind of gotten away from and gotten a little too comfortable with fastballs.
"Those last few innings got us back to where we want to be."
After the fourth, McCarthy retired eight Pittsburgh batters in a row before a Jones single to right field. McCarthy then struck out catcher Russell Martin on three pitches and exited the game with two outs in the seventh and 115 pitches on his ledger.
Montero was optimisitic that McCarthy's next start would yield better results.
"Hopefully the next one is better because I have a better feel now. The last two or three innings were a lot better and we called pretty much everything else and it worked better," he said.
McCarthy is scheduled to take the mound again next Tuesday night when the Diamondbacks visit the New York Yankees in their first Interleague game of the season.