Gutierrez: A's Cahill in a galactically-bad funk


Gutierrez: A's Cahill in a galactically-bad funk

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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comOAKLAND -- When he woke up on May 10, Trevor Cahill was looking like the leading candidate to start the All-Star Game for the American League. The right-hander was sitting at 6-0 with a ridiculous 1.72 ERA in his first eight starts.Now? Cahill should have to buy a ticket to watch the Midsummer Classic ... on some old-school closed circuit showing of the game in someone's garage. Oh yeah, and Cahill should have to supply the red cups for the adult beverages.The erstwhile Darth 'Dactyl has been that bad, and getting progressively worse since his otherworldly start to the season.Consider: the Star Wars fan has been getting diced up of late, like Darth Maul by Obi-Wan. Like Jango Fett by Mace Windu. Like Anakin by Obi-Wan. Like Obi-Wan by Vader. Like Luke getting his hand chopped off by his pops.After being uncharacteristically wild in the A's 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night at Coliseum, Cahill is now winless in his last seven starts, going 0-5 with a 5.67 ERA in that stretch.RECAP: Cahill floundering, A's fall 7-4 to Royals
Whither the Force?"In the second and third inning, I was just trying to throw the ball down the middle, and I couldn't even do that," Cahill said. "I knew it was going to be a long night."A long, and strange one, indeed.Cahill lasted but 4 13 innings, and needed 96 pitches to do that. Plus, only 47 of those pitches were strikes as he gave up four runs on four hits and a career-high seven walks. It was only the third time in his career Cahill, who also had two wild pitches, did not have a strikeout in a game and he became only the second starter in Oakland A's history to walk at least seven batters but not strike one out, joining Mike Norris, who actually won his such game in 1979.A's interim manager Bob Melvin has seen the worse of Cahill.A'S INSIDER GALLERY: The wild side
In his last start, Melvin's debut with Oakland, Cahill lasted only 2 23 innings at Chicago and was roughed up for six earned runs by the White Sox. Before that, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees pounded Cahill."Maybe he's trying to do a little too much," Melvin said. "He needs to let it go and just trust it."He's just a little frustrated right now, because it's gone on a little longer ... he's trying to muscle it a little bit, pulling the pitch."Of course, with how drastically different Cahill's results have been since May 10, and with the injury bug ravaging the A's rotation, you have to wonder if something more than mechanics or psychology is eating at Cahill."Nah," he said when I asked if there was anything physically wrong. "Just in kind of a funk."Call it the Dark Side of the Force for Darth 'Dactyl. It's a team-wide phenomenon.

Durant gets taste of competition, plays 1-on-1 with Warriors coach

Durant gets taste of competition, plays 1-on-1 with Warriors coach

For the first time in a month, Kevin Durant got a taste of competition. Well, sort of.

Durant on Wednesday went through one-on-one sessions with Warriors assistant coach Willie Green, who is two years removed from a 12-year career as a guard in the NBA.

“He played full-court one-on-one, played some half-court one-on-one to start and then they stepped it up,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters prior to the Warriors-Spurs game in San Antonio. “Willie said it was a good workout.”

Durant and Green played five games of half-court ball and one with the full court. The active player, for the record, won all six games.

“Kevin got him pretty good, so it’s a good sign,” Kerr said before flashing a bit of humor. “If Willie had beaten him, I would have been very concerned.”

An even better sign for the Warriors is that only one man walked away feeling the burn of competition.

“Willie said he was really sore,” Kerr said. “Not Kevin. Willie.”

Durant has been out since sustaining a medial collateral ligament sprain and bone bruise to his left knee on Feb. 28 at Washington. Though there have been no setbacks in his rehab, there is no firm timetable for his return.

“It’s impossible to predict that stuff,” Kerr said. “But it would be nice for him to get a couple games in at the end of the regular season.”

The Warriors plan to re-evaluate Durant next week, after which they expect to plot out his return. There is optimism that he could be back in time to play two or three regular season games in preparation for the postseason, which begins April 15.


Anonymous poll: Is Sharks defenseman Burns still Norris frontrunner?

Anonymous poll: Is Sharks defenseman Burns still Norris frontrunner?

Throughout much of his dominant 2016-17 season, the words “Norris Trophy lock” have often preceded Brent Burns’ name. 

The 32-year-old has led all NHL blueliners in scoring for the past three months, building upon a strong second half last season in which he helped lead the Sharks to their first ever Stanley Cup Final, and solidifying himself as one of the best defensemen in the game.

In 76 games, Burns has 28 goals – 11 more than any other defenseman – and 45 assists for 73 points and a plus-17 rating. At one point on Feb. 19, he had 14 more points than Erik Karlsson, who was second among NHL defensemen.

But Burns went cold earlier this month. During one stretch, he went nine out of 10 games without finding the scoresheet, and finally snapped a 16-game goal drought with an overtime winner on Tuesday against the Rangers.

Meanwhile, Karlsson has been heating up. A two-time Norris Trophy winner in 2012 and 2015, the Senators defenseman has 13 points in his last 14 games. As of Wednesday morning, Karlsson was just five points behind Burns in scoring, with 15 goals and 53 assists for 68 points and a plus-seven rating.

There’s talk Karlsson could take home a third Norris, snatching it out of Burns’ grasp.

But, probably not.

In an anonymous poll among 21 PHWA members, most of whom get a vote for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, Burns’ designation as the frontrunner seems fairly safe with just six games to go in the regular season.

Of the writers polled, including a broad swath from across North America, 14 told CSN they would likely vote for Burns as the league’s best defensemen if the season ended Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Three were leaning towards Burns, while only four said they would give it to Karlsson.

One writer polled had Burns first, Tampa Bay’s Viktor Hedman second, and Karlsson third.

Of course, 21 votes is just a small sample size of the PHWA membership. Last season, 183 writers took part in voting for the Norris, according to the final tally. Burns finished third in voting, well behind winner Drew Doughty, while Karlsson was second.

Still, as long as Burns stays in front of Karlsson in the scoring race, it appears he remains in line to become the first Sharks defenseman ever to earn a Norris Trophy.