Trevor Cahill was going toe-to-toe with opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia for most of the game on Tuesday night at Chase Field. It was 1-1 and the top of the Cardinals' order was due up in the 6th when Cahill plunked leadoff hitter Jon Jay with an 88-mile-per-hour fastball. Two batters later, Matt Holliday homered and his team never looked back.
This scenario was all too familiar for Cahill, as the 25-year-old had similar struggles in each of his last two seasons.
"Really where he gets in trouble is, you know, he'll be rolling, then all of the sudden he walks someone and he makes a mistake and then bang, there's two runs," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson noted before the game.
"That's what he's going to try to avoid and hopefully he can do that," Gibson went on. "(Brandon) McCarthy told him, ‘You have to make a goal to walk way less batters.'"
Cahill gave up three free passes -- one being the aforementioned Jay hit-by-pitch -- in 5.2 innings on Tuesday, the third one resulting in his removal from the game.
"I think I was most upset with those walks," Cahill said after the game. "And then I hit (Jay) with a pitch I wasn't trying to throw anywhere near there."
Over the last two seasons, Cahill has averaged 3.44 walks per nine innings (BB/9), a mark that's good for the tenth-highest in the major leagues. Last year, in the pitcher's first season with the Diamondbacks, he led the team in walks, issuing 74, while Ian Kennedy issued the second-most with 55.
And when Cahill lost last season, walks often played a big part. In 12 losses, he tallied a 3.96 BB/9, which, when contrasted with the 2.59 BB/9 he posted in his 13 wins, seems awfully telling.
Three years ago, in 2010, Cahill posted a career-low BB/9 rate: 2.9. That season, which Cahill spent with the A's, was also his winningest, as the pitcher went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA -- numbers good enough for top-five finishes in both categories.
Despite showing an improvement in this area during spring training -- posting a 2.33 BB/9 on five walks in 19.1 innings -- Cahill's Tuesday BB/9 rate was calculated at 4.76.
It's not just Kirk Gibson and Charles Nagy and Brandon McCarthy who are telling Cahill to get his walk rate down. History itself -- Tuesday night included -- is making an appeal.