Garza goes for first win vs. Rockies on CSN

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Garza goes for first win vs. Rockies on CSN

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 10:49 a.m.

Associated Press

(AP) -- Troy Tulowitzki didn't have much trouble at the plate against the Chicago Cubs last weekend at Coors Field.

It could be a different story when the Colorado Rockies visit Wrigley Field.

Tulowitzki hopes to shake his struggles on Chicago's North Side in Monday night's series opener against the Cubs.

The Rockies (14-7) took two of three from Chicago in Denver from April 15-17, as catcher Chris Iannetta led Colorado's offense with five RBIs.

Tulowitzki didn't drive in any runs in that series, but went 4 for 11 with a triple and scored twice. The All-Star shortstop was 1 for 3 on April 15 against Matt Garza (0-2, 4.74 ERA), Chicago's scheduled starter Monday.

Tulowitzki, who drove in his team-leading 16th run in Sunday's 6-3 loss to Florida, hasn't had much luck at Wrigley, batting .162 with a homer and 13 strikeouts in nine games there. It's his lowest batting average at any current NL park.

Unsurprisingly given Tulowitzki's struggles, the Rockies haven't enjoyed much success lately at Wrigley, losing 11 of their last 12 games there.

The Cubs (10-11) have dropped three of their last four at home, though, including a 7-3 defeat to Los Angeles on Sunday. Batting third, shortstop Starlin Castro went hitless for just the third time in 15 games.

Castro, who went 7 for 13 with a homer and four RBIs in Colorado earlier this month, is 2 for 12 as the No. 3 hitter, compared to a .500 average when batting out of the leadoff spot.

"If I mix and match the first three guys, I don't care where (they hit)," manager Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website.

Quade now hopes Garza can finally earn his first victory as a Cub.

The offseason acquisition from Tampa Bay allowed six hits and struck out nine over six shutout innings of a 2-1, 11-inning win over San Diego on Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader. The Cubs had lost Garza's first three starts.

"(Personal) wins don't matter," said Garza, who won a career-best 15 games last season with the Rays. "If I don't win a game all year, but we win my games it doesn't bother me one bit."

Garza didn't give the Cubs a good chance to win in his last start at Coors Field, yielding five runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-0 loss. The right-hander, who leads the majors with an average of 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings, struck out five Rockies.

Garza posted a similar line in his other career start versus the Rockies - a 4-3 Rays loss at Coors on June 18, 2009, in which he yielded four runs over five innings.

Iannetta, who had a three-run triple off Garza at Coors Field, has sat out the last two games for the Rockies but may return to the starting lineup Monday to catch Esmil Rogers (2-1, 6.75).

After winning his first two starts of the season on the road, Rogers was tagged for eight runs and six hits - including three homers - in three innings of an 8-1 home loss to San Francisco on Monday. The right-hander had not yielded a home run in his previous nine starts.

Rogers has never faced the Cubs.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs bring Tommy La Stella back to big league team, option Spencer Patton

Cubs bring Tommy La Stella back to big league team, option Spencer Patton

Tommy La Stella is back with the Cubs.

The team announced Wednesday that the infielder was recalled from Triple-A Iowa, with reliever Spencer Patton heading back to Iowa to make room for La Stella.

La Stella made headlines when he refused to report to the minors following his demotion on July 28. He spent several weeks away from the organization and even said in one interview he was contemplating retirement. He eventually made his way to the minors, getting 27 at-bats in eight games while working his way back to big league shape. He hit .296 with a pair of doubles and four runs scored in those eight games with Iowa and Double-A Tennessee.

On the season, La Stella is hitting .295 with a .388 on-base percentage, two home runs, eight RBIs and 14 runs scored in 51 games.

La Stella was in the Cubs' lineup for Wednesday's series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates, batting seventh and playing second base.

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

The Cubs wrap up their three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from the North Side starts at 7 p.m., and be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (13-7, 3.21 ERA) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02 ERA)

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How Kyle Hendricks transformed into a Cy Young-level performer for Cubs

How Kyle Hendricks transformed into a Cy Young-level performer for Cubs

No, Kyle Hendricks didn’t plan to quietly nudge his way into the Cy Young Award conversation when he outlined his goals for 2016. But here he is, leading the majors with a 2.09 ERA while the Cubs watch their nominal fifth starter transform into a dominant pitcher who should be at or near the front of a playoff rotation.

“I had my sights set a little lower,” Hendricks admitted. “I’m just taking it in stride.”

Hendricks continued his systematic destruction of National League lineups on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, shutting down the Pittsburgh Pirates during a 3-0 victory as the Cubs continued their march toward a division title and what they expect will be a deep run into October.

The magic number to clinch the NL Central is 18 after Hendricks crafted seven scoreless innings against a dangerous Pittsburgh lineup, not allowing a Pirate to go past second base while working efficiently (99 pitches, 61 strikes) during a clean game that lasted only two hours and 36 minutes.

On the one-year anniversary of Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter/onesie press conference at Dodger Stadium, Hendricks didn’t allow a hit until Gregory Polanco’s soft single to center field leading off the fifth inning. Hendricks (13-7) has entered his own zone — where he’s confident enough to throw whatever he wants whenever he wants — the way Arrieta did during last year’s Cy Young campaign.

“It’s just a different method,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Jake was a little bit more power — obvious power — but (Kyle’s) got a power changeup. (And) Jake had this freaky movement (on his fastball) — and so does Kyle. It’s just maybe not as hard but still equally effective. Give him credit. Stop looking at the gun. This guy’s really good.”

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The radar readings don’t matter as much when Hendricks can pinpoint two- and four-seam fastballs while dropping curveballs that play off his changeup, neutralizing hitters to the point where entire opposing lineups become very-good-hitting pitchers (.205 average/.581 OPS).

When Hendricks is on, Miguel Montero describes his job as putting down fingers and catching the ball.

“It’s all about location,” Montero said. “Nowadays, everybody’s just trying to overpower everybody (else) and they forget about the secondary stuff.

“He knows he doesn’t throw as hard, but he locates his fastball. He locates his secondary stuff and he works the edges. He worked the corners, and that’s actually even harder to hit than 97 (mph) down the middle. Even if you know the fastball’s coming, or the changeup’s coming, (when he executes the) pitch, you can’t do much with it.”

The Cubs (84-47) gave Hendricks — a pitcher already working with an understated confidence and a belief in his scouting reports — an early lead when Anthony Rizzo slammed a Chad Kuhl fastball off the small video panel above the right-field wall for a two-run homer in the first inning.

Whether or not Rizzo can catch up to Kris Bryant in the MVP race, Hendricks has to be among the leading Cy Young candidates, given his metrics (0.98 WHIP), remarkable consistency (18 straight starts with three earned runs or less) and strong August push (4-0 with a 1.28 ERA in six starts).

Hendricks has done it at home (9-1 with a 1.21 ERA through 14 games at Wrigley Field) and helped preserve the bullpen (3-0 with a 0.79 ERA in three starts following an extra-inning game the day before).

“It’s amazing how he does it,” Rizzo said. “He’s not the guy who’s getting away with plus-plus stuff. He’s just executing his game plan. He knows how to attack hitters. He studies hitters. And he went to Dartmouth and has a really good education, so he out-tricks guys.”

But this is much more than just a hot streak or a run of good matchups. Hendricks now ranks fifth in career ERA (2.96) among all active pitchers with at least 70 starts, trailing only Jose Fernandez, Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner.

Not that Hendricks is wondering about whether or not he will start Game 1 in the playoffs or where he will finish in the Cy Young voting compared to big-money aces like Max Scherzer.

“You can’t look that far in the future in this game, because it will come up and bite you,” Hendricks said. “I’m definitely a different pitcher than a lot of those guys. But, again, getting noticed, that kind of stuff, I’m just out there trying to pitch my game.”