It’s getting to be a broken record.
As diligent Trevor Cahill wants to correct wrongs of the past, he appears to sink deeper in a quagmire of his own making.
If the old real estate adage is correct, Cahill miseries can be traced to “location, location, location.”
In his case, finding the strike zone is imperative to success. Against the Dodgers Sunday, Cahill had as much success locating the strike zone as finding snow on a Caribbean beach.
Walking four through the first three innings, and watching two score, Cahill exited two hitters into the fifth and went down to his fourth straight defeat before 31,757 Sunday afternoon in Chase Field. Parlaying those walks and home runs by Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers took down the D-backs 8-6 and swept the weekend series.
Down 1-0 in the third and one out, Cahill walked Dee Gordon, who promptly stole second and third. After walking Yasiel Puig, who also stole second, Gonzalez lifted a three run bomb half-way up in the right field bleachers.
After a slow start, Gonzalez feasted on D-backs pitching in the three game sweep of Arizona. With his third inning home run in as many games, Gonzalez has extra base hits in eight straight games and that is one short of the franchise record set by Jack Fournier in 1925 and tied by John Roseboro in 1961. That also includes a current nine game hitting streak. Gonzalez career high for hitting in consecutive games is 18 between June 20-July 7, 2012.
Afterward, D-backs’ manger Kirk Gibson appeared a drawn and beaten man. Frustration and anguish swept across his face and he quickly deflected questions about Cahill.
“He’s not been consistent,” is about all Gibson would say. “What’s wrong with him? You’ll have to ask him.”
Gibson did not discount pulling Cahill from the rotation but, on the surface, it would seem foolish to pay the native of Oceanside, Calif, a salary of $7.7 million to watch from the bench. For next season, the economics get worse as Cahill is due $12 million.
That is essentially on the basis of one decent season when Cahill went 18-8 for Oakland in 2010 and made the American All-Star team.
Coming into his latest Dodgers’ start, Cahill’s ERA was 7.90 and the walks, plus getting behind early did not help. As well, the Dodgers had a strategy.
“We have to be patient with him and get him high in the strike zone,” said Don Mattingly, the Dodgers manager. “When he keeps the ball down, it’s tough and normally throws many ground balls.”
Clearly, the Dodgers were patient through the early going and walks buried Cahill. Taken out after four innings plus two batters, Cahill finished the day with five walks and two short of a career high. Cahill walked seven Royals on June 14, 2011.
In those four plus innings, Cahill surrendered five hits, including a double and two home runs, six earned runs and now sports a 9.17 ERA. In 17.2 innings thus far, Cahill has allowed 18 earned runs and appears to sink quickly.
Still, his teammates tried their best to recover from an abyss. Slowly, the D-backs bats came alive, touched L. A. starter Dan Haren for a three spot in the third and cut a one-time Dodger 5-0 lead to two runs.
A lead-off double from Gerardo Parra, a triple off the bat of Aaron Hill and a sacrifice fly by Paul Goldschmidt produced two. Eric Chavez followed with his first home run of the season and the D-backs cut the margin to two at 5-3.
“Our guys battled their tails off,” Gibson added. “It’s tough when you’re down early but they showed no quit.”
Eventually, they cut the final margin to two when Mark Trumbo, the current major league leader in home runs and RBIs, crushed a three run bomb in the seventh. From that point, Dodger relievers Chris Perez and Kenley Jansen shut the door on any further Arizona response.
The current home stand ends with three against the New York Mets.
On Monday night, the D-backs will send Josh Collmenter (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound against right-hander Zach Wheeler (0-2, 5.73 ERA). On Tuesday night, it’s Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 4.82) against Mets right Jenrry Mejia (1-0, 4.09 ERA) and for Wednesday afternoon at 12:40, Brandon McCarthy (0-2, 7.78 ERA) gets the ball for Arizona and opposes righty Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.03 ERA).
ON THE ROAD BACK
Possibly within the next week, the Diamondbacks will have to make an important roster decision.
Following his current rehab session with Triple A Reno, outfielder Cody Ross appears ready to return to the D-backs. Gradually stretching out playing time, Ross was scheduled to play a full nine innings Sunday. In six games with the Aces, the 33 year-old native of Portales, N. M. was hitting .316 (6-for-19), one double and 5 RBIs.
“I think we’ll make a decision on Cody some time this week,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Sunday’s game with the Dodgers. “He’s getting close.”
When Ross is activated, the Diamondbacks will likely drop a pitcher. Currently, there are 13 pitchers on the 25 man roster and one is likely to go. Those on the chopping block could be right-hander Will Harris (0-1, 11.37 ERA in six appearances) and lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-0, 5.06 ERA in five games).
Because of numbers, the likely one appears to be Rowland-Smith. The D-backs have lefties Oliver Perez and Joe Thatcher already in the bullpen and Rowland-Smith, as the third lefty, could be considered a luxury.
LEAST WE FORGOT
Teams go through several personnel changes each season and each off-season.
Over the end of last season and the winter, the D-backs unloaded two players who are now off to strong starts in the American League.
Designated for assignment by the D-backs on August 27 and traded two days later to Cleveland, Jason Kubel spent two years in the desert in which he showed marginal production. In his initial season, Kubel slammed 30 home runs and drove in 90 runs in 2012. Last season, he fell off to .220, five home runs and 32 RBIs in 89 games.
For Kubel, a change of scenery has been positive.
Signing with the Twins in the off-season, Kubel, through games of last Saturday, was hitting .405 and good for second in the American League.
Similarly, outfielder Adam Eaton, dealt to the White Sox in the off-season, was hitting .354 in games through Saturday and that’s good for seventh in the league.
“We had a need and sometimes you have to trade promising players to fill that need,” said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson before Sunday’s game with the Dodgers. “Eaton is young, talented player and has a good career ahead of him.”
With Kubel, injury compromised his playing time last year. In the end, Gibson acknowledged, that made him expendable.
During this season, the Diamondbacks have an opportunity to revisit each player. Facing Eaton, they will play the White Sox in Chicago the weekend of May 9-11 and take on Kubel and the Twins at Target Field Sept. 22-24