ANAHEIM -- One of Trevor Cahill’s biggest strengths throughout his career has been his ability to generate grounders and avoid allowing home runs. But Cahill has uncharacteristically struggled to keep the ball in the park this season, and that was again the case in a 6-5 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
Cahill, signed by the Angels to a one-year deal worth $9 million this offseason, gave up three homers in 4 1/3 innings and has now served up eight blasts in 26 1/3 innings this season. Last year, Cahill allowed eight homers in 110 innings en route to a 3.76 ERA with the A’s. After being charged with five runs on six hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings in a loss that extended the Angels’ losing streak to six games on Saturday, Cahill has a 5.47 ERA in five outing.
“The home runs have been across the board, not just with Trevor,” said Angels manager Brad Ausmus, as the club has given up the fourth-most homers in the Majors with 35 in 18 games. “It’s been an issue across the board and something we need to address."
Cahill said he can’t pinpoint why he’s had such an issue with homers this year, as it’s not something he’s been trying to focus on.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Cahill said. “It’s not something you think about. You’re just trying to make a pitch. I feel like maybe a handful of mistakes they haven’t missed this year and a couple of good pitches they’ve hit out too and then it’s more home runs. It’s just like couple of swings. I feel like I’ve thrown less bad pitches than I did last year. I just didn’t get hurt on it. Just how baseball is."
His troubles started right away against the hot-hitting Mariners, as he surrendered a leadoff homer to Mitch Haniger to open the game. Just three batters later, Daniel Vogelbach connected on a solo shot to right. Haniger's homer came on an 0-2 sinker on the inside part of the plate, while Vogelbach's came on a 1-1 cutter that was low and in.
Cahill gave up two more runs in the fourth after loading the bases with one out. But this time, the runs came on a hard-hit grounder down the third-base line from Dee Gordon on his 1,000th career hit.
But he was stung by yet another blast in the fifth, as Edwin Encarnacion crushed a solo shot with one out that knocked Cahill from the game. That homer came on a 3-2 sinker in the bottom half of the zone.
“The first guy hit an 0-2 sinker for a homer,” Cahill said. “Off the bat, I was just looking for a new ball. I didn’t think it was going to get out fair anyways. But he put a good swing on it. And then made two other mistakes. That [fourth] inning, just got to two strikes on some guys but couldn’t put them away."
The Angels' offense, meanwhile, couldn’t do enough to get back into the game, although Albert Pujols reached an impressive milestone with career RBI Nos. 1,992 and 1,993 with an RBI double in the third and a solo home run in the ninth. Pujols moved past Babe Ruth into fifth on the all-time list, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, which doesn’t count RBIs before 1920, when it became an official statistic.
The Halos had chances late, including loading the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Peter Bourjos struck out against lefty Zac Rosscup to end the potential rally. Pujols ripped his homer off Anthony Swarzak in the ninth but it wasn’t enough.
“It's been rough,” Pujols said of the losing streak. “But I think the best thing is to let it happen right now rather than later on in the season, when you don't have time to make up or catch up on that ground. It's a rough start, but we need to flip the page, start tomorrow and come out with a win.”