For Trumbo, long-awaited homer is all in a day’s work
PHOENIX — Mark Trumbo put in overtime Saturday. He got to the park early, set the pitching machine to throw hard sliders and camped out in the batting cage, gauging a pitch that has frustrated him at times this season.
It was the refresher he needed.
Trumbo’s three-run home run in the third inning not only gave the D-backs a 4-3 lead over Colorado that would balloon to a 14-4 victory by the time a nine-run eighth inning ended, but it also reinforced the extra time and effort.
Trumbo hit a 3-2 cut fastball, a pitch similar to a slider, for the homer. He said he occasionally has a hard time recognizing the pitch, and he struck out on off-speed pitches twice in a 5-1 victory Friday and again against Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa in the first inning Saturday.
After fouling off a 3-1 fastball, Trumbo got the hard breaker he had prepared for. It landed six rows into the left field seats.
"You have to be smart enough to make an adjustment," Trumbo said. "If you are doing the same thing, it’s on you."
The 40-50 early swings in the batting cage Saturday helped him get a little better feel.
"They continue to throw that breaking ball down and in, and I continue to swing at it, so obviously I am not recognizing it very well at times. There is no secret in that," Trumbo said.
"I was really trying to get a grip on what I needed to do, to take that pitch or get something I could work with. Some pitches look better to certain hitters, and that is one that I have struggled with. It’s something I’m working to get better on. I made a good adjustment that at-bat. I was finally able to do something on my side to give myself a better chance."
Trumbo has two of his eight homers this season off De La Rosa, lining one to right field in Coors Field on April 4 and hitting this one to left. It snapped a drought of 89 plate appearances without a homer and was his first since April 21, although the date is very misleading, inasmuch as he spent 11 weeks in the interim on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot.
"I noticed," Trumbo said, dryly.
"It’s part of my game, so I’m well aware if it is not happening as frequently as I would probably like. There are plenty of guys who have gone through droughts like that. I know I’m not the only one. The track record is pretty much what you have to go on."
Trumbo has 29, 32 and 34 homers in the past three seasons, and he is hitting them at about the same rate this season, just with fewer plate appearances. He is hitting .364 in his last nine games.
"He’s been due. You kind of expected he would get a hold of one," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
"He’s been pretty productive lately. He was just kind of in a little funk about a week ago, but you can see he’s coming out of it. The guy really grinds it out. He’s hitting fourth right now; there’s being a lot of responsibility put on him so it’s good to see him get some gratification, some success there."
Trumbo has played first base in four of the last five games, the position he has played most often in his major league career and the spot he is likely to play almost every day the rest of the season as the D-backs stick with David Peralta and Ender Inciarte in the outfield. But Gibson said he believed health, not position familiarity, is the main reason Trumbo is on a nice run recently.
"He’s fine over there because he’s played more games there than any other position in the big leagues, but when he came back I thought he was moving a lot better in the outfield," Gibson said. "I think earlier in the year you saw a guy with a real sore foot. (Health) is going to make you look better, and have a better chance of having success."
One of the reasons the D-backs believe David Peralta has the approach to continue to keep hitting well is how kept his hands back on a 3-2 breaking pitch and grounded a ball inside the bag at first for an RBI double in the first inning. That was the first hit of what was to become a big day.
1 — Trevor Cahill’s victories as a starting pitcher this season after his 14-4 victory over Colorado.
*A day after stealing home for the first time, David Peralta hit his first career grand slam, capping a nine-run eighth inning. He had a career-high five RBIs, and, with three hits, has 67 in his first 55 games, a franchise record. "Smokin’," Mark Trumbo said. "He has a real knack for finding the barrel at the plate. It’s really great to see somebody have success this early on in their career."
*Trevor Cahill has always believed in using his changeup to give left-handed hitters a different look, but he has had recent success incorporating it more against righties. Cahill had four of his seven strikeouts on changeups, three against righties — Drew Stubbs (two) and Josh Rutledge.
*Ender Inciarte had three more hits and quietly has built a 10-game hitting streak to raise his batting average to a season-high .258. He has settled in nicely as regular time has mounted.
*Daniel Hudson gave up a single and got three groundball outs while pitching an inning in his second rehab start in the Arizona League on Saturday.
*Cliff Pennington had three hits and scored four times — twice in a nine-run eighth inning. "Hitting is contagious," Pennington said. "It is just one of those things when you get a couple hits, guys starting feeling good and things can start to roll." Pennington also handled third base well in his second start there this season.
Chris Owings took 30 swings in a batting cage on Saturday. If there are no setbacks, he will progress to live hitting in a simulated game against left-hander Matt Reynolds on Friday, Gibson said. "We’re hoping he is over the hump," Gibson said. Owings has been on the disabled list since June 29 with a deep bone bruise and a slight dislocation of his left shoulder. A rehab assignment will follow the sim game.