PHOENIX – Last season, walks really hurt Trevor Cahill.
That reality hasn’t changed in the first two starts of his 2014 campaign.
And that’s a shame because the Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander looked pretty good in one of those starts.
“He was great,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said after the game. “He threw a great game, come on. That was nails.”
On Wednesday, Cahill walked three San Francisco Giants hitters, but none would prove bigger than the one he issued to second baseman Ehire Adrianza in the fifth inning. Cahill, who fell to 0-2 following the Diamondbacks’ 2-0 loss to the Giants, was ahead in the count on Adrianza 0-1 and then 1-2 before losing him and issuing a free pass with one away. He has now issued seven walks in 10.0 innings pitched this season, good for a 6.3 walks-per-nine rate, up from the career-high 4.0 BB/ 9 he recorded in 2013.
Giants pitcher Tim Hudson — who himself walked no one on the night — laid down a clinical sacrifice bunt to move the rookie over to second base. And outfielder Angel Pagan would plate him in the following at-bat with a low-hit line drive down the rightfield line, putting the Giants up 1-0 on Cahill and the Diamondbacks.
“He walked a guy from a 1-2 count; that cost him,” Gibson said.
“It was a tight game. Those little mistakes there are always the difference.”
Ultimately, that support would prove sufficient for Hudson in his Giants debut. The 38-year-old right-hander lasted 7.2 shutout innings in his first start of the season, allowing just three hits while striking out seven. The Giants rewarded his rendering with a second run of support in the sixth inning, which came after Michael Morse clobbered a line drive toward the centerfield wall, plating Hunter Pence, who had reached on a fielder’s choice earlier in the frame. The ball was misplayed by starting centerfielder Tony Campana, who was removed the following inning in favor of A.J. Pollock. Gibson said after the game that the ball should have been corralled by his centerfielder.
But that second run was beside the point; it was Hudson — not his offense and not the solid outing of the pitcher opposing him — who stole the show.
“He executed his pitches well,” said second baseman Aaron Hill, who went 0-for-4 on the night. “Everyone was walking back (to the dugout) and just never got a pitch to hit. Even his pitches that he left up, we couldn’t get a handle on it. You have to tip your cap, you know, he did a great job and we just couldn’t manufacture any runs tonight.”
For Hudson, the start wasn’t just the first made in a Giants uniform, but it was the first time he took the mound since being carted off the field last summer when he broke his ankle trying to cover first base for the Atlanta Braves. It definitely wasn’t the first time he’s been good against the Diamondbacks or at Chase Field, however.
“Hudson’s always been good against us,” Gibson said.
With Wednesday’s win, Hudson improved to 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 12 career starts against the Diamondbacks. In seven starts at Chase Field — widely regarded as a “hitter’s park” — Hudson is now 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA over the course of his career.
Giants relief pitchers Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo picked up where their starter left off, finishing off the final four Diamondbacks hitters off in perfect succession.
Two of the three Diamondbacks hits came off of Gerardo Parra’s bat and both times the red-hot outfielder made it to second base, but that’s as far as anyone would make it for the home team Wednesday. Parra is now 7-for-16 with two double and four RBI to start the season.
The only other Diamondbacks hit was Paul Goldschmidt’s double down the rightfield line, which extended his hitting streak to 24 games, dating back to last season. With the hit, Goldschmidt tied Tony Womack for the second longest hitting streak by a Diamondbacks player in franchise history. The streak is also the longest active such streak in baseball and the longest of his career, topping a 20-game stretch in 2012.
The Diamondbacks fell to 1-4 with the loss, which was marred by a linescore blemish that rarely manifested last season. Only six times last season did the team manage three hits or less. On Monday, the Diamondbacks tallied 16 hits — another rare feat last season, accomplished just 13 times.
Cahill looked much improved from his previous start of the season, which was made in Sydney, Australia versus the Los Angeles Dodgers and resulted in a loss.
After the game, he noted that he felt his fastball command was off, but his manager had high praise for the pitcher’s effective curveball and smooth pace.
Cahill controlled damage nicely and kept composure in tough counts, though falling behind to 16 of the 25 batters he faced and throwing first-pitch strikes to just 12. Walks aside, the 25-year-old right-hander did more than enough to keep his team in the game.
The streakiness of the Diamondbacks bats, which garnered 16 hits just two nights before falling silent and scraping together just three against Hudson, appears fairly disconcerting, no matter how well the opposing pitcher performed. Without Patrick Corbin, the team likely won’t be able to afford to waste a start like Cahill’s, even if they were able to lift Wade Miley out of a four-run first-inning deficit the night before.
He Said It:
“You could tell right away that Hudson was hitting his spots pretty consistently, so I just did my best to keep it close.” -Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill
• Five of the first six starters the Diamondbacks are scheduled to face in 2014 have at least one career top-10 finish in Cy Young voting. Two-time NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw headlines those opponents, having won the award in 2011 and 2013, while finishing second in 2012. Thursday’s Giants starter Tim Lincecum, meanwhile, won the award in 2008 and 2009 while logging top-10 finishes in the following two seasons. And all of Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson have recorded top-10 finishes in the past. Second-year Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is the only starter of the first six faced by the Diamondbacks to fail to record a top-10 finish in Cy Young voting over the course of his career.
• Diamondbacks relief pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith made his Diamondbacks debut Wednesday, tossing a scoreless eighth inning while giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one. It was the pitcher’s first major league appearance since Oct. 2, 2010 with the Seattle Mariners.
• Cahill is off to an 0-2 start for the second time in two seasons. He has yet to receive any run support from his offense.
Pitcher Bronson Arroyo will make his Diamondbacks debut in Thursday’s series finale matinee, opposite Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum. Arroyo is 5-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 13 career starts against the Giants. Lincecum is also .500 against his scheduled opponent, going 8-8 with a 3.49 ERA in 23 career starts against the Diamondbacks, but he has a 4.48 ERA in 10 career nods at Chase Field. First pitch is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.