Garza vows Cubs will keep fighting

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Garza vows Cubs will keep fighting

Matt Garza tries to vent his frustrations behind closed doors and away from the cameras. He directs the anger toward himself and never shows up teammates.

If this is getting old, Garza wont say it out loud. He wants the responsibility on his shoulders, and believes he should finish whatever he starts. That fire is one reason why the Cubs think he could be a building block.

This one definitely appeared headed toward It is what it is, man territory, with Garza shrugging off another hard-luck decision in the interview room. The story changed late Monday night in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley Field.

Pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair worked a 12-pitch walk against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. Geovany Soto didnt swing and walked on four pitches.

An ex-Cardinal, Joe Mather, came through with the clutch hit, a two-out, two-run single up the middle that lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 walk-off victory they hope will be a jumpstart.

Just like that, Mather was getting the Gatorade bucket poured over his head and a shaving-cream pie pushed into his face. And Garza, who loves stuff like that, had to smile: That was one hell of a game.

Even with Albert Pujols out of the picture, the gap between the Cubs (5-12) and Cardinals (11-6) seems to be growing. No one else in the National League Central is above .500, and the last-place Cubs are six games out already.

If the Cubs are going to hang around this summer, it will be with their starting pitching. Garza went seven innings and allowed two runs, keeping them within striking distance.

My job is to go out there and take my team as deep (as) I can, Garza said. But enough about me. These guys played hard for nine. We didnt quit. And down to the last out, we just kept fighting and fighting.

Thats just a little more growth right there for our young club. Thats a huge step forward for us.

When Theo Epstein was asked earlier this month if the teams performance would impact what the Cubs might do with Garza, the team president simply said: No.

You can see someone who likes the big stage and clearly feels at home. In Garzas last 14 starts at Wrigley Field dating back to June 27 of last season he has a 1.84 ERA and has allowed three runs or less in each of those outings.

Garza only got into trouble in the fourth, which began with Skip Schumakers infield single and Matt Holliday lining a double to left. The Cardinals manufactured their two runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly and Garza got a little wild (hit batter, wild pitch, two walks). But it didnt become the big inning.

Hes a big-time, big-game pitcher, manager Dale Sveum said. He put himself in that situation, but it was more pitching to the lineup. He didnt let some guys hurt him. He knew the pitcher (Jaime Garcia) was coming up and thats just having a good head on your shoulders.

Seven times last season Garza left with the lead and didnt factor in the decision. This one looked like a loss until the final at-bat. The Cubs hope its a sign of things to come.

You sure hope so, Sveum said. Obviously, things havent gone that well at home. To do that off one of the best closers and the world champions is always a big springboard.

SportsTalk Live: David DeJesus discusses time spent with Joe Maddon, World Series criticism

SportsTalk Live: David DeJesus discusses time spent with Joe Maddon, World Series criticism

"Be sexy."

That was one of two rules manager Joe Maddon told David DeJesus when the Tampa Bay Rays acquired him in 2013.

DeJesus appeared on SportsTalk Live on Wednesday to discuss his time spent with Maddon in Tampa Bay.

"Just be yourself out there," DeJesus said of Maddon when the Rays traded for him. "I want you to have fun and I want you to just have that ora of 'just don't worry, just go out there and play.' It kept the whole team loose."

DeJesus also shared his thoughts on Maddon's questionable managerial decisions in the World Series.

Hear that, and more, in the video above.

Between Cubs' victory lap and Hall of Fame vote, Sammy Sosa barely staying in the picture

Between Cubs' victory lap and Hall of Fame vote, Sammy Sosa barely staying in the picture

Sammy Sosa has stayed so far off the radar that his long-running absence from Cubs Convention didn't even come up during last weekend's Q&A session with ownership.

And the Cubs can't go viral all the time and dominate every offseason news cycle, with the National Baseball Hall of Fame revealing the election results on Wednesday and welcoming Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez as part of its 2017 class.

But it's become out of sight, out of mind for Sosa, who barely crossed the 5-percent threshold (8.6) needed to remain on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for another year.

Sosa — a seven-time All Star, 1998 National League MVP and the franchise's all-time leader with 545 home runs (and 609 overall) — hadn't gained any traction at all during his first four years under BBWAA consideration, hovering between 12.5 and 6.6 percent.

It's complicated with Sosa, a diva personality who experienced a dramatic late-career renaissance and got named in a New York Times report that exposed him as one of the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003 (during what was supposed to be an anonymous survey).

The Cubs have undergone a complete makeover since Sosa walked out in 2004, leaving him without many allies in the organization. It's nothing personal, but in the past the Ricketts family has hinted that Sosa could mend certain fences and fill in some of the blanks he once left open during an unconvincing performance in front of Congress.

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The Cubs brought Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg to meet President Barack Obama during their Martin Luther King Jr. Day visit to the White House and keep adding former players to the front office. It's awkward after a World Series run where so many alumni showed up to do TV work, throw first pitches, spray champagne or simply watch a rare playoff game at Wrigley Field.

— If Sosa's looking for a roadmap, Manny Ramirez did his penance and cooperated with Major League Baseball to the point where Cubs president Theo Epstein shockingly hired him as a Triple-A Iowa player/coach in the middle of the 2014 season, something that would have been unthinkable during their clashes with the Boston Red Sox.

As a hitting consultant, Ramirez took a come-and-go-as-you-please arrangement, becoming a national story during the 2015 playoffs but largely staying away from the 2016 championship team, perhaps gearing up for his independent-ball comeback in Japan this year. Even after failing multiple drug tests, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of his generation still finished at 23.8 percent in his first year on the BBWAA ballot.

— Lee Smith (34.2 percent) — a drafted-and-developed Cub and the franchise's all-time leader with 180 saves — didn't come close in his 15th and final time on the BBWAA ballot. Smith had been grandfathered when the Hall of Fame narrowed the eligibility window to 10 years, possibly trying to squeeze Steroid Era symbols like Roger Clemens (54.1 percent) and Barry Bonds (53.8 percent).

— This will make Cub fans feel old: Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano are Hall of Fame-eligible for the first time in 2018, when based off this year's returns Trevor Hoffman (74) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7) should be building momentum toward the 75 percent needed for induction into Cooperstown.