For the fourth day in succession, the starting pitching gave the Diamondbacks a chance to win.
Most pitchers extol the virtues of keeping their team in a game and the refrain is universal.
Despite rocked for eighth hits and five runs after three innings Saturday against he Diamondbacks, Phillies’ starter Cliff Lee told reporters he just wanted to keep Arizona at bay and leave scoring opportunities for his team.
Same can be said for D-backs’ starters.
On Sunday, right-hander Brandon McCarthy continued the string of quality starts by an Arizona starting pitcher. For his effort, McCarthy was sharp but his opponent, Phillies’ starter A. J. Burnett, was a bit sharper. McCarthy easily turned in his effort of the season but went down to the Phillies, 2-0 Sunday afternoon before 30,022 in Chase Field.
In probably his stronger start for Arizona since signing as a free agent before the 2013 season, McCarthy allowed seven hits and two earned over seven strong innings of work and stuck out a career-high 12 hitters. His previous career best was 10, accomplished three times.
“This was big for me because I wanted to stop giving up runs,” McCarthy said, who finished his outing with 103 pitches, one short of his season-high. “That was the one goal but I also think it’s important to continue a row of good starts coming from the starters. We’re doing as much as we can to hold up our end.”
The Phillies managed single runs in the first and sixth and that was all. For his effort, McCarthy pounded the strike zone and walked only one hitter. That was Jimmy Rollins in the third but McCarthy picked him off.
Held by McCarthy to seven hits and those two runs, the Phillies managed to use those two runs to win their second straight and take the weekend series.
““He was good and kept the ball down,” Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley said of McCarthy. “He had life on his fast ball and his cutter was effective.”
From an offensive standpoint, the Diamondbacks managed only two runners to second and one to third. With one out in the fifth, Chris Owings tripled but McCarthy grounded hard to mound and Gerardo Parra flied to left to end the threat.
The other two to reach second was A. J. Pollock who singled to lead-off the second and moved up on a single from Owings. That threat ended when McCarthy bunted into a force play and Parra grounded into a double play.
In the eighth, Parra doubled with two out but Martin Prado grounded to third to end that inning.
Despite the loss, manager Kirk Gibson thinks he sees some light at the end of the tunnel.
“The rotation has been pretty good lately,” he said. “We just need to get synched up and play a total game. We haven’t been able to do that.”
THE CAHILL OPTION
The Diamondbacks are becoming burdened by the future of pitcher Trevor Cahill.
Saddled with paying the right-hander $7.7 million this year and $12 million next season, the D-backs are certainly not gaining any value out of this huge investment.
Cahill’s poor showing as a starter resulted in banishment to the bullpen and even here in a limited role, he has failed to yield positive results. Through the first three weeks of the season, Cahill has appeared in eight games, sports a 1-5 record and a 7.66 ERA.
Perhaps Saturday night’s implosion against the Phillies may be a significant event.
Coming into the game with a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning, Cahill allowed five of the first six hitters he faced to reach base and was eventually tagged with a 6-5 defeat.
For now, Cahill’s future remains in the bullpen and manager Kirk Gibson says he will continue to use the Oceanside, Calif. Native strictly in a relief role.
“We want him to continue to throw out of the bullpen,” Gibson said. “(Saturday) was different for him because he didn’t come in at the start of an inning. But for now, he’s in the bullpen.”
That means rookie Mike Bolsinger continues in the D-backs’ rotation and his next start is slated for Tuesday night at home against Colorado.
HOME STAND FINALE
The six game home stand concludes with three with the Colorado Rockies.
Wade Miley (2-2, 4.50 ERA) opens the series Monday night against Rox left-hander Franklin Morales (2-1, 3.86). On Tuesday night, it’s Mike Bolsinger (1-1, 5.27) taking on righty Tyler Chatwood (1-0, 4.26) and on Wednesday, Josh Collmenter (1-2. 3.38) opposes righty Jordan Lyles (3-0, 2.93).
Then, the D-backs take off on a nine game road trip to San Diego, Milwaukee and the South Side of Chicago in a three game set against the White Sox.