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Grit Index: Bullpen lets D-backs, Cahill down in heartbreaking loss

Heading into the ninth inning Tuesday night, things looked promising for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They had a 1-0 lead following a Josh Wilson solo shot in the eighth inning and starter Trevor Cahill was cruising. Up to that point the Giants had only been able to record three hits and hadn’t found an answer for Cahill.

Unfortunately for Cahill and the D-backs, it didn’t end well. They suffered a 2-1 loss
after closer J.J. Putz came in and couldn’t seal the deal. Instead Putz gave up a two-run bomb to Pablo Sandoval to give San Francisco a comeback, series-clinching victory. The D-backs bullpen has now given up eleven home runs this season.

Through seven it was a battle between the starting pitchers — Cahill and the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner. Neither one wanted to give in so ultimately it was up to the relievers to get the job done.

For the D-backs, second baseman Josh Wilson snapped the scoreless tie with a solo shot in the eighth inning against Santiago Casilla. Casilla relieved Bumgarner (102 pitches) after seven innings. On the night, Bumgarner gave up no runs on three hits, while walking one and striking out one.

The 32-year-old Wilson had not hit a home run since June 5, 2011 against the Florida Marlins — a span of 95 at-bats between home runs. He took a 1-2 pitch deep into left field to give the D-backs their lone run of the game.

As for Arizona’s starter, Cahill pitched a gem. He had his longest outing of the year, going eight-plus innings.

The Good:

Starter Trevor Cahill was in a groove Tuesdsay and seemed to find his zone early. He’s struggled with walks issuing 12 on the season heading into Tuesday night’s contest, but he was in control against the Giants. Cahill threw eight-plus innings, allowed one earned run with one walk and five strikeouts before being taken out in the ninth. At the time he was replaced, Cahill had thrown just 88 pitches, 61 of which were strikes.

The Bad:

Closer J.J. Putz has four blown saves already in 2013. He had five blown saves in all of 2012 and four in 2011.

The D-backs bullpen as a whole has nine blown saves in 2013.


• The D-backs have a penchant for playing in close games this season. Twenty of their 27 games being decided by two runs or less and 10 of their last 11 losses have been by one or two runs.

He Said It:

“We thought about it but we made the decision. In general that’s the way it’s going to play out. You got a closer, you’re going to go to him and you expect him to do his job.” — Manager Kirk Gibson on whether he considered leaving Trevor Cahill in the game for the ninth because he had thrown only 88 pitches.

Up Next:

The D-backs play the finale of this series with the Giants on Wednesday at Chase Field. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy will try for his first win of the season, as he’s currently 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA. McCarthy is making his sixth start of 2013 and suffered a 6-3 loss in his last outing on April 26 against the Rockies. He’s also winless in his last six starts, dating back to his time with the Oakland Athletics in 2012. Opposing McCarthy will be Tim Lincecum for San Francisco. This will be Lincecum’s 22nd career start against Arizona, and he’s 7-8 lifetime against the D-backs with a 3.44 ERA. He has however lost six straight against Arizona with his last win coming in September 2010. First pitch Wednesday is set for 6:40 p.m. on Arizona Sports 620.