When the Chicago Cubs signed Edwin Jackson to a large free-agent contract prior to last season, their worst fears likely didn’t include an 18-loss campaign followed by another season of disappointment.
Trevor Cahill hasn’t lived up to expectations since being acquired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, either, and the struggling former All-Stars will oppose each other Friday night at Chase Field as the last-place clubs open the second half.
Jackson (5-10, 5.64 ERA) led the majors in losses in 2013 after signing a four-year, $52 million contract. He’s been a disappointment so far this season as well, and he’s coming off his worst start of 2014 after allowing nine runs – including three homers – in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-6 loss to Atlanta on Saturday.
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The Cubs (40-54) are hoping the All-Star break benefited Jackson, who is 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA over his last six starts and has just as many walks (14) as strikeouts in his last four outings.
"It was just one of those games where it was just embarrassing," Jackson said after Saturday’s outing. "Pretty much just unacceptable. It’s one of those games to put way back in the back of the memory bank."
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA in five starts against the Diamondbacks since spending the 2010 season with them. He pitched well against his former team April 24, though, allowing three runs in seven innings of a 5-2 loss.
One day before Jackson’s outing, Cahill (1-6, 5.66 ERA) earned the win in relief for the Diamondbacks after tossing two scoreless innings in a 7-5 victory over the Cubs. He had been sent to the bullpen earlier in April after losing his first four starts with a 9.17 ERA.
The right-hander, who won 18 games for Oakland in 2010 and was acquired in a trade prior to the 2012 season, was designated for assignment June 9 and cleared waivers, sending him to the minors.
Cahill, making $7.7 million this season, was recalled Monday after going 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in six games for Triple-A Reno. He hasn’t appeared in the majors since June 6 and last started April 13 when he allowed seven runs and walked five in four innings of an 8-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Arizona (40-56) hopes to see some improvement from Cahill while looking for Paul Goldschmidt to continue his tear into the second half. The All-Star hit .436 during an 11-game hitting streak before going 0 for 4 in Sunday’s 8-4 loss at San Francisco.
The Diamondbacks scored 11 runs while dropping three of five before the break, and manager Kirk Gibson is counting on his team coming back refreshed.
"Come back, have a nice workout on Thursday and then get back after it," Gibson told MLB’s official website. "Hopefully we can play better in the second half."
The Cubs were outscored 67-36 while losing eight of 10 heading into the break following Sunday’s 10-7 loss to Atlanta. Manager Rick Renteria has seen some bright spots, though, including 22-year-old Arismendy Alcantara, who is hitting .391 with a homer, a triple and three doubles in five games since being called up.
"I would just say more than anything they’re building their confidence," Renteria said. "They’re playing as a team – not giving up, continuing to chip away, maintaining an attitude that grinds and doesn’t take any deficit or any part of the game (and) allow it to affect them."
These clubs split four games from April 21-24 at Wrigley Field. Goldschmidt went 7 for 17 in the series and is hitting .410 in his last 10 against the Cubs.