Cahill puts it all together in dominating win
Starter K's career-high 10 as learning curve begins to spike
OAKLAND -- With a dominating sinker and devastating ball movement, Trevor Cahill made another strong start in his bid to become an All-Star on Saturday.
Behind 7 2/3 strong innings from Cahill, the A's beat the Pirates, 5-0, to claim their first series victory in eight tries.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Movement has never been an issue with Cahill. In fact, it used to be a problem, as Cahill's pitches once were too unpredictable to throw. But as he settles in to his second big league season, it appears the 22-year-old right-hander is figuring out is repertoire.
"It's kind of a thing that comes with experience," Cahill said. "I haven't been throwing the sinker for too long -- I started in the Minor Leagues a year in. I can kind of add and subtract, but sometimes I still don't know which way it's going -- running or sinking. But tonight I think I had a better idea than most nights."
Cahill had little trouble with Pittsburgh, as he recorded four 1-2-3 innings and allowed only two hits and three walks. His sinker consistently fooled the Pirates, leading to his career-high 10 strikeouts.
"He had really good movement on his fastball, sink," said Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones. "It had late, heavy sink. He hit his spots down and away, not giving us much to drive."
According to A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, Cahill successfully attacked the corners of the strike zone on Saturday. Only one Pirate reached second base all night, coming with two outs in the seventh inning.
With the win, Cahill (7-2) has won his last six decisions, the longest streak in his career. Over his past eight starts, Cahill is 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA, proving why A's manager Bob Geren thinks Cahill should be in the Midsummer Classic.
"If he got behind in the count, it seemed like he could just change the grip on his fastball and throw it wherever he wanted to," Geren said. "That's a good sign. That's what a veteran pitcher can do -- if they fall behind, they can always get back into the count. For a young guy to have that ability -- he's learned a lot."
With the evening Coco Crisp and Daric Barton had at the top of the lineup, Cahill had plenty of room for error. Crisp got on base thrice on Saturday, scoring all three times via a Daric Barton double. It was a banner day for Barton, as he went 3-for-4, setting career highs with three doubles and four RBIs.
"That just happens," Barton said. "Having Coco on the basepaths every time, you don't have to hit a homer. He's been great getting on base, and I'm just trying to do my job and get him in."
After Friday's game, Barton said he watched film and realized he wasn't using the lower half of his body as much as he should. With a tweaked approach, Barton wreaked havoc on the Pirates. The 24-year-old first baseman is riding a six-game hitting streak, batting .381 (8-for-21) in that span.
As for Crisp, it was just the latest example of the impact he can have on a team that has struggled at the plate this season. He also had a stellar day in the field, tracking down two fly balls on the warning track.
In four games since returning from the 15-day disabled list, Crisp is batting .438 (7-for-16) with seven runs.
"He's a good player," Geren said. "He's a guy -- if you look at where we're at -- we need a guy like that right now. He's an all-around player."
Kurt Suzuki also got into the act on Saturday, hitting a solo homer to left center in the fifth, his club-leading ninth. Since missing three games in mid-June due on the bereavement list, Suzuki said his timing hasn't been the same. For now, Suzuki said he's more concerned with how he feels in the batter's box rather than the results.
"Right now I'm really not as comfortable as I want to be," Suzuki said. "My swing's not really where I want it to be, it's always a work in progress, you're always trying to learn more about yourself. I look at this as a positive -- you learn more about yourself and about your swing in these kind of times."
Craig Breslow relieved Cahill and finished the eighth by getting Andy LaRoche to ground out to third. Breslow has retired the past 18 batters he has faced and opponents are batting .031 (1-for-32) against him in his past 12 outings.
Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect ninth for the A's, who won consecutive games for the first time since May 26-29.
Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.