There was a stretch of the season where Diamondbacks’ right-hander Trevor Cahill all but walked the plank.
Depended upon as a reliable and productive starter, Cahill went off the deep end and never reached for that life raft. Out of the gate with three losses and a no-decision in his first four starts of the season, the 25 year-old out of Oceanside, Calif. eventually landed on the disable list from July 1 to August 16 with a right hip contusion.
Since returning to the rotation, Cahill turned in two wins and one no-decision prior to his start Saturday against the San Francisco Giants in Chase Field.
With an effective outing, Cahill continued his recovery Saturday. While he received a no-decision, Cahill showed signs of the kind of resurgence which can act as a catalyst toward next season.
Lost in Cahill’s productive effort was another walk-off victory.
Eric Chavez’s one out single in the bottom of the ninth scored Willie Bloomquist to give the Diamondbacks 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants before 36,091.
The win was the D-backs’ 12th walk-off victory of the season and their 39th comeback triumph. The game-winner was Chavez’s fifth career walk-off hit.
For Cahill, the turn-around seems definitive and a slight change in mechanics may have turned the corner.
Success for Cahill over recent outings has been attributive to a high arm angle. That gives more effectiveness on his signature sinker pitch.
“I know what I have to do and, at this point, try not to do too much,” he said. “I’m getting a higher angle and throwing a better sinker. When I drop my arm, that’s when I get into trouble.”
Cahill’s recent performances have pundits wondering about the change. The stint on the DL acted as a dividing line between evil and now good.
Against the Giants, Cahill seemed to run out of gas in the seventh, but latest long enough to keep the Diamondbacks competitive.
“(Cahill) is coming on strong,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “He has more confidence. The angle of his arm is higher and his sinker is more effective. He’s on his way back.”
If Cahill held the Giants at bay, the offense pushed the Diamondbacks into a temporary lead. Limited to one run in its previous two games, the Diamondbacks broke open a scoreless game with a three spot in the fourth.
Catcher Miguel Montero started the merry-go-round with a single that scored Martin Prado. Gerardo Parra followed with a sacrifice fly, and Willie Bloomquist’s single up the middle scored Montero.
Should Cahill’s seventh inning be as effective as his previous six innings, times would not have been as rough.
Entering the frame with a 3-0 lead, that quickly melted. Gregor Blanco led off the seventh with his second homer of the season and Marco Scutaro tripled in another. That cut the lead to one run, and exit Cahill.
Facing left-handed hitting Brandon Belt, the lefty Eury De La Rosa came in with the tying run at third and one out. De La Rosa caught Belt looking at a third strike and then manager Kirk Gibson went to Josh Collmenter to face Buster Posey.
Posey promptly drilled an 0-2 pitch into right field for his 67 RBI and tied the game at 3-3.
That set the stage for Chavez and the game winner.
Bloomquist led off the ninth with a single to left and Adam Eaton bunted safely to sacrifice Bloomquist to second. After Paul Goldschmidt was intentionally walked, Chavez lined the first pitch from Sandy Rosario into the left-center field for walk-off.
Asked if there was any extra incentive when the Rosario walked Goldschmidt, he simply answered, “no.”
“Coming back so many times makes it tough on us,” he said. “Sure, you want to win but you also want to tack on runs early and make it a little easier.”
The Giants series ends Sunday with the D-backs’ Patrick Corbin (13-4, 2.79 ERA) faces right-hander Yusmeiro Petit (1-0, 3.18 ERA).
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
Beginning Sunday, major league rosters can be expand to 40 players.
While manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers are contemplating the September call-ups, Gibson took time to explain the philosophy and reasoning behind selecting certain players.
“First and foremost, you’re looking at guys that can help you,” Gibson said prior to Saturday’s game with the Giants in Chase Field. “We’re here to win as many games as possible and, at the same time, we want to expose players to what goes on at the major league level.”
Regarding an immediate concern, Gibson said he would likely start with pitching. While discussion of a six man rotation is on the table, no decision here has been finalized.
Instead, Gibson indicated the essential purpose of adding players is “to develop kids for the future of the game,” he said.
In terms of sheer numbers, Gibson believes a 25 man roster may not be enough and 35 is too much.
One player the organization is considering as a September call-up is shortstop Chris Owings, who was named the Pacific Coast MVP-of-the-year.
If Owings is recalled, his playing time would likely be limited
That’s because Willie Bloomquist, Didi Gregorius and Cliff Pennington are ahead on the depth chart. Indicating Bloomquist is the best offensive shortstop at the moment, Gibson said there are a plethora of ways which Owings can benefit from a month on D-backs roster.
“(Owings) is a guy who fits into this organization and he’s earned something like this,” Gibson said. “If we bring him up, he would likely be a later guy. It would benefit him to be in the clubhouse and be around the players. Even if he doesn’t play that much, we can still earn from watching other players.”
CODY ROSS UPDATE
Nearly a month after dislocating his hip, outfielder Cody Ross was back in Chase Field, visiting the clubhouse and bonding with his teammates.
Sporting crutches, Ross said he hopes to be back by spring training and doctors assured what he sustained was not a career-ending injury.
What was described as “a freakish injury,” Ross took reporters through the injury, and met with the media prior to Saturday’s game.
At his first time at bat Aug. 11 against the Mets, Ross hit a routine grounder to third and thought he would be out be a considerable margin. As he approached the first base, Ross said he slowed down but his cleat made contact with the bag in an awkward away. He stumbled forward, and fell in a difficult way.
Because he was in great physical condition, weight of the contact shifted to his hip and a piece of bone from the socket broke loose.
Two days later, he had surgery and the effect was not prevent a hip replacement at a later time.
“When it first happened, I start to speculate what this was,” he said. “As I fell to the ground, I thought, ‘I just broke my hip.’.”
Immediately, doctors placed two plates at the site of the injury and Ross said “about five or six screws.” For the first three months, he cannot put any pressure on the leg and recovery is expected to be slow.
“I’ve started physical therapy three days a week and began to work on a range of motion,” he said. “Doctors said, ’take it slow,’ and don’t do too much.”
Ross equated his situation to a career-ending hip injury sustained by Bo Jackson. Citing better medical technology today and baseball as “a safer sport” than football, Ross indicated his spirits are high and ready to push ahead.
“”Everyone likes Cody and, besides, he’s a great player,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who managed Ross in 2010 and 2011. “He knows the game and knows how to play the game. You hate to see that happen to him.”
Ross ended the season with a .278 average (88-for-317 at-bats) in 94 games. He finished with 17 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 38 RBIs.