Undefeated in September?
If you’re in the middle of a pennant race, this sounds just what you need.
For Diamondbacks’ right-hander Trevor Cahill, his last three starts have been successful, and the kind of result the Diamondbacks desire of the 24 year-old. For the month of September, he’s 3-0 with wins over the Giants, Dodgers and now the Padres.
The issue remains Cahill’s bout with inconsistency and from Aug. 5 to Sept. 5, he was winless with three no-decisions in five starts. That was the portion of the schedule which the D-backs desperately needed victories, and Cahill was unable to deliver.
As a result of his 6-2 victory over the San Diego Padres before 21,013 at Chase Field Wednesday night, Cahill increased his season mark to 12-11 but, as the schedule winds down to a precious few games, his September results may too little too late.
Then again, there might a mixed message here.
After the game, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said the organization was satisfied with Cahill’s durability and the number of innings pitched. With his San Diego win Wednesday night, Cahill has thrown 185 innings, and is on track for his second straight 200 plus inning season.
Still to be addressed is his sudden surge of success.
“I’m throwing four pitches for strikes now, and that’s been the difference from some starts ago,” he said. “Earlier, my curve was not working and (catcher Miguel Montero) didn’t call it. Now, the curve is better and that’s helping me throw four pitches for strikes.”
Still, the way this one started had a familiar notion. Cahill fell behind, but his teammates later came to the rescue.
With one out in the San Diego fourth, Cahill walked Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso. Both came around to score and the Padres, thanks to the gift walks, built a 2-0 lead.
By the time Cahill finished the fifth inning, his pitch count was up to 65 and he walked four hitters, tying the most passes yielded in one game this season. That equaled the four given up the Braves on June 27 and two behind his season high of six against the Padres on April 10, his first start in Sedona Red.
Taken out for a pinch hitter after six frames, Cahill reached 96 pitches and allowed five hits and two runs.
“He gave us six strong innings and threw his usual number of ground balls,” Gibson said. “Over the past few weeks, he’s been more consistent with command of his pitches. I wish he could have won more, but he’s given us the innings we wanted.”
If Cahill fell behind early, his teammates picked up him.
With a single run in the fourth, the Diamondbacks broke through for three in the fifth to seal the deal in this one.
Here, Adam Eaton drove in the tying run with a triple in the left center gap and scored the go-ahead run when Padres’ starter Edinson Volquez balked Eaton across.
“Getting a triple in the left center field gap and down the left line are the hardest,” Eaton said. “When the ball went in the gap, I thought I had a chance and went for it. On the balk, I was dancing down the line a little and thought about stealing home. When (Volquez) saw that, he stepped back and that’s when they called the balk.”
On the final run of the inning, Paul Goldschmidt drove in Justin Upton, who doubled. The D-backs added a pair in the eighth when Ryan Wheeler tripled in Montero and scored when Logan Forsythe’s throw to third was wild and ended up in the Arizona dugout.
From that point, the bullpen of Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez and Matt Lindstrom held the Padres to no runs and one hit over the final three innings.
Yet, the kind of turn-around Cahill displayed in September may be more agonizing to the D-backs front office brass than his recent results.
“I’m tying to be durable, and feeling a little more comfortable pitching at home,” Cahill said. “I have a few more starts left and hope to build on the recent success.”
With the win, the D-backs remain four and one-half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League’s second wild-card spot but have 13 games remaining.
For the record, Cahill became the second pitcher since 1990 to earn 10 wins and start 30 games in each of his first four major league seasons. The other was C. C. Sabathia from 2001-2004.
After the AAA Reno defeated Pawtucket 10-3 Tuesday night in the Triple-A National Championship Game, the Diamondbacks recalled outfielder A. J. Pollack and infielder Mike Jacobs from the Aces.
In addition, Arizona designated outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment.
Appearing in Wednesday night’s game with the Padres, Jacobs pinch hit for Cahill in the sixth and popped to shortstop.
While a member of the Colorado Rockies organization, Jacobs tested positive for human growth hormone in August, 2011, and served a 50 game suspension. As a result, he released by the Rockies organization and signed by the Diamondbacks in January, 2012.
After helping Reno to the AAA title, the Diamondbacks recalled the 31 year-old for the final two weeks of this baseball season.
“He served his suspension, and for what he did at Reno, we felt he deserved a chance,” said Gibson. “At this point, he’s a good mentor to the younger players.”
The home stand concludes Thursday afternoon with Tyler Skaggs (1-2, 5.55 ERA) taking on Padres’ lefty Clayton Richard (13-12, 3.74) at 12:40 p.m.
Then, it’s off to Denver for three with the Rockies and three with the Giants at AT&T Park to finish the road potion of the schedule. The Diamondbacks then return to Chase Field to conclude their season with three against the Cubs and three with the Rockies.