So far, the current road trip has been a flat-out disaster for the Diamondbacks.
Losers of five straight and thus far 5-13 in August heading into Thursday‘s game in Washington, the team has one more contest away from the desert before limping home and the commencement of an eight-game home stand.
While the recent results have been far from encouraging, what does remain encouraging is the production out of right-hander Trevor Cahill.
Once condemned to the dungeon of the minor leagues, Cahill had bounced back like lifted on a spring from a Jack-in-the-box.
“Hi, remember me?” he seems to say. “I’m back.”
Over the past few weeks, Cahill has put together five quality starts and the most recent on Wednesday against the Nationals could signal a new beginning for the once-condemned pitcher.
Pitching into the seventh inning in Washington, Cahill eventually allowed two runs, both earned, walked four and fanned five hitters and lowered his ERA to 4.54. In all, Cahill tossed 103 pitches and 61 for strikes. Though the Diamondbacks eventually lost 3-2 on a walk-off single from Anthony Rendon, Cahill did what pitchers say is their main objective each time out. That is, to keep their team in the game.
“I felt a lot better,” Cahill told MLB.com after the game. “I know I had a couple of walks early on and then late, but that was probably the best I felt, the best stretch I’ve had in a while, those middle innings. After the first two innings, I felt like I was able to settle down. A walk here and a walk there, I’d like to get those out of the way but fortunately, I was able to pitch around all but one.”
With his effort Wednesday night in the nation’s capital, that would include five straight starts in which Cahill demonstrated an all-around improved game.
Part of the reason is the frequent use of the curve ball. During his current stretch, Cahill has not been afraid to throw the curve as his out-pitch and most observers believe this goes back to a critical situation against the Pirates at Chase Field on August 3.
Leading 2-1 in the seventh that Sunday afternoon, Michael Martinez doubled with two out and that represented the tying run for a team in the middle of the National League Central division race.
Bucco’s manager Clint Hurdle then called upon Pedro Alvarez to hit for the pitcher Francisco Liriano. With lefty Oliver Perez warming up in the Diamondbacks bullpen and ready to come in to face the left-handed hitting Alvarez, manager Kirk Gibson went to the mound.
Ready to take the ball from Cahill, Gibson said afterward he looked into his pitcher’s eyes and Cahill said, “I want to go after him. I know I can get him.”
With that assertion and mode of confidence, Gibson left Cahill in and the native from Oceanside, Calif. promptly struck out Alvarez on curves balls down and in to the left-handed hitter.
Since, a smile has returned to Cahill’s face and an aire of self-assurance has settled on his shoulders. The Diamondbacks would like nothing more than Cahill to regain the form and production which carried him in an 18-8 season in 2010 and a spot on the American League All-Star team.
His next start should be this coming Wednesday against the Dodgers at home. That’s the team which started his slide in game two of the season back in Sydney, Australia in March. Since that time, Cahill spent unwanted time in the bullpen and exiled to the minors.
Now, he appears back with a vengeance and a determination to right the dreadful wrongs of the recent past.
The road trip concludes with a 4 p.m. Eastern start in Washington. A pair of lefties will be on the mound, Wade Miley for Arizona and Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals.
The Diamondbacks then return to Chase Field for a three-game weekend set with San Diego. That follows two with the Dodgers and three with the Rockies for the Labor Day holiday weekend.