SAN DIEGO â" After Trevor Cahill got â" what else? â" three ground-ball outs in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon, he had his first shutout of the season and the Diamondbacks had what feels like their first good turn through the rotation all season.
Cahillâs six-hit gem at Petco Park led the way to a 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres, giving the Diamondbacks a series win and what feels like a little momentum as they head back to Phoenix to begin a six-game homestand.
So what if the Diamondbacks were facing two of the National Leagueâs least intimidating offenses in two of baseballâs toughest parks in which to hit? This is the kind of starting pitching they thought they were going to have all year.
In the past five games, Diamondbacks starters have combined for 36 1/3 innings, eight walks, 26 strikeouts and a 1.98 ERA. Before this run, they had a 4.41 ERA, ranking as one of the least effective starting rotations in the National League.
âWeâve been wearing our bullpen out and guys havenât been going as deep as theyâre capable of,â Gibson said. âThey all threw the ball well this time through. We hope that continues. Itâs a good trend.â
Cahill said he used his full array of pitches, mixing his change-up and curveball among his trademark two-seam fastball to throw the second shutout of his career.
Not unlike some of his rotation mates, Cahill has struggled to string together good starts this season. The Diamondbacks hope this is the start of a streak for the pitcher they considered their key addition in the off-season.
âI felt pretty good,â he said. âMy defense helped me out a lot and I was fortunate enough to get some ground balls at guys for double plays. I definitely felt pretty good. I just tried to attack the zone. Theyâd been aggressive all series and I was trying to take advantage of that.â
Cahill, who threw 109 pitches, got double plays in the second, sixth, seventh and eighth to thwart potential Padres rallies. Three of the double plays came on sinkerballs.
âThatâs when you know youâre seeing Trevor Cahill at his best,â Gibson said.
The Diamondbacks thought they were constructing one of the leagueâs better rotations when they got Cahill in a trade with the Oakland Aâs in December. Putting him alongside Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, they expected starting pitching to be the least of their concerns.
Instead, Kennedy has struggled and Hudson got hurt, and rookie lefty Wade Miley surprisingly has been their most effective starter.
âI think everybodyâs been throwing the ball a lot better,â Cahill said. âJust kind of pounding the zone. Wade threw a lot of strikes the other day. I think that kind of carries over. Heâs set the bar high and the other starting pitchers use it as like a competition, almost, and try to build off each other.â
Moreover, the Diamondbacks finally seem to have a few hitters swinging well at the same time, including Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt and Gerardo Parra, all of whom homered.
âItâs just a better feeling when you score,â Gibson said. âIf you donât hit, you donât look good.
âOf course youâd like to sweep, but if you can win (the series) thatâs a positive step in the right direction. Thatâs how you pick up momentum. Thatâs how you get on streaks.â
View from the pressbox
It was just five days ago that we were wondering if the Diamondbacks were going to be disappointed by Trevor Cahill this season. Through his first 10 starts, heâd struggled to pitch deep into games and seemed to find ways to lose them, not the other way around. Sundayâs start was the kind of outing they probably expected when they acquired him in December. Weâll see if he can build on it and string together a few good ones, something heâs been unable to do this year.
âA great momentâ: Standing on deck in the seventh inning, Gerardo Parra made eye contact with an elderly woman sitting near the Diamondbacks dugout.
âShe looked at me and said, âLetâs go,ââ Parra said. âI said, âTouch my bat. If I get a base hit, Iâll give it to you.ââ
Parra did more than that. He crushed an opposite-field home run to give the Diamondbacks a 6-0 lead. When he got back to the dugout, he made sure the woman, whom he guessed was at least 90 years old, got the bat.
Parra was asked if she was a Diamondbacks fan.
âI think now she is,â he said.
Big blasts: Parraâs shot was one of three homers the Diamondbacks hit on Sunday, just the second time this season they went deep three times.
âThat was good,â manager Kirk Gibson said. âWe havenât really been hitting home runs. I canât think of the last time we hit a two-run home run, and today we hit two of them.â
The Diamondbacks hadnât hit a homer with a runner on since May 26, when John McDonald hit a three-run shot against the Brewers.
Scary directive: Gibson said that after Saturdayâs game, he approached Sundayâs starter, Trevor Cahill, in the clubhouse and gave him orders.
âYou need to go eight innings tomorrow,â Gibson told him.
How did Cahill respond?
âYou know, heâs Trevor,â Gibson said. âHe said, âOK.ââ
Cahill laughed after he one-upped Gibsonâs request by throwing a shutout on Sunday.
âI was kind of caught off guard,â Cahill said. âIt kind of scared me a little bit. â¦ I think he wanted to see how I responded. It was one of those things that caught me so off guard. I was like, huh?â
Asked why he hadnât told Cahill to throw eight innings sooner, Gibson said, âGood question. You got me on that one. I knew you could bring it back on me somehow. I take full responsibility on that one.â
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