Diamondbacks leadoff hitter Adam Eaton embraces any descriptor in the thorn-in-the side family.
“That’s a compliment to me. Being a pest. Being annoying. Being a dirt bag. Any of those is fine with me. I just try to get on base, score runs. Anything. It doesn’t matter,” Eaton said.
Eaton reached base for the 11th time in his 12 major league games and triggered the most relevant sequence in Trevor Cahill’s 6-2 victory over San Diego with his speed/annoyance combination as the D-backs won their third straight game Wednesday at Chase Field.
Eaton tripled in the tying run in a three-run fifth inning and scored moments later, when San Diego right-hander Edinson Volquez balked him home before throwing a pitch to Aaron Hill, the next batter. Seemingly thrown off his game, Volquez then gave up doubles to Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt around a hit batsman as the D-backs took a 4-2 lead.
Eaton had his first triple and first RBI, and his first bother-induced balk.
“I was creeping down the line and thinking about going (stealing home) if he went into his normal motion,” Eaton said.
Volquez, believing that home plate umpire Kerwin Danley had called time out, stepped off the rubber with the wrong foot and Danley, after a second, called the balk.
“I think he got flustered,” Eaton said.
Eaton has reached base in eight of his 13 plate appearances in the D-backs’ short winning streak, working counts while taking time to get a good read against pitchers he has never seen before. Along with two hits, he has walked five times and been hit once. He saw 26 pitches against San Francisco on Sunday, one of which he seemed to take out of Giants’ catcher Buster Posey’s glove, flicking it foul before earning one of three walks that day.
“You just about caught that,” Eaton told Posey.
“Yeah, I thought it was by you,” Posey said.
Eaton has drawn 38 pitches in eight plate appearances the last two games against the Padres, who had swept the first two three-game series at Chase Field this season and despite losing two in a row are still 10-7 against the D-backs.
“As a leadoff hitter, see as many pitches as possible, because the more pitches you see, the more fatigued the pitcher gets, the more his pitch count gets up, and the more the 3-4 hitter can see,” Eaton said.
Eaton’s triple came on a 3-2 pitch.
“They hit the nail on the head when they said you haven’t seen a lot of these pitchers before. Being more conscious of what they are throwing. I had seen his pitches. As any hitter is, the more you see it, the more comfortable you feel.”
The D-backs (74-74) reached .500 for the first time since Aug. 26 but were unable to make up any ground on St. Louis, which beat Houston for the second straight game to remain 4 ½ games ahead of the D-backs for the second wild card.
Cahill (12-11) won his third straight game to get over .500 for the first time since June 20 while joining an elite group with his 30th start of the season. Cahill joined Captain Cheeseburger – New York Yankees left-hander C. C. Sabathia – as the only two pitchers since 1990 to have 10 victories and at least 30 starts in their first four major league seasons, according to research done by the D-backs’ reliable media relations department.
“Any time you are named with C.C., that’s usually a good thing,” Cahill said.
Only five pitchers since 1930 have done in – Cahill, Sabathia, Ted Higerua, Tom Seaver and Larry Jansen.
Cahill is 2-2 in five starts against San Diego but given his 2.64 ERA might deserve better. He was in trouble twice, in the second and fourth innings, but was scored on only in the fourth, when he walked two batters before two-out singles by Will Venable and John Baker drove in the runs that gave San Diego a 2-0 lead.
As the year winds down, Cahill’s season has been remarkably similar to the player he was traded for, Jarrod Parker, who has been in Oakland’s rotation since late April. They are almost the same pitcher, at least statistically.
Cahill, pitching in a more hitter-friendly park, has a 3.89 ERA and a 1.30 ratio of hits and walks per innings. Parker (11-8) has a 3.51 ERA and a 1.28 ratio. Their walks and strikeouts per nine innings are within a small fraction of each other. Cahill has given up 12 stolen bases. Parker has given up 19.
Cahill has not missed a start this season, priding himself on his durability.
“Try to be. It’s tough. There are so many little things that can go wrong. I just try to be prepared and hope that my body holds up. I don’t always feel great. You kind of learn from that when you don’t have your best stuff, you have to battle through it,” Cahill said.