Postponed: Garza gets the ball for doubleheader


Postponed: Garza gets the ball for doubleheader

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Posted: 3:38 p.m. Updated: 7:28 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney

The Cubs are already trying to patch things together with their pitching staff. On Wednesday they will have to account for at least 18 innings in an eight-hour window.

Thats the fallout from the decision to postpone Tuesdays game against the San Diego Padres due to steady rains and the chance of thunderstorms. They will play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

Matt Garza will start it at 1:20 p.m. and be expected to work deep into the game. James Russell, the left-handed reliever, will start the second game at 6:05 and max out around 70 pitches before turning it over to the bullpen.

It will be, as manager Mike Quade likes to say, all hands on deck.

They were forced into a doubleheader because the Padres are not scheduled to return to Chicago again this season and will open a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in San Diego.

Carlos Zambrano gave the Cubs eight shutout innings in Mondays 1-0 victory over the Padres. The Cubs are also off on Thursday, which should reduce the stress on their bullpen.

I really think were in the best shape we could be in to deal with this, Quade said. Well find out.

Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome is expected to be available for the doubleheader after his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday.

The story will be Garza (0-2, 6.27), who for all his struggles has received zero run support in his last two starts.

Im just going to control what I can control thats what I do with the ball, Garza said. Im just going to keep pitching (and) keep fighting.

The Cubs were drawn to Garza because he pitches aggressively and demands the ball. They would love to see him take control in Game 1.

Garza has struggled with pitch selection and location, giving up 13 runs on 27 hits in 18.2 innings. Hes also struck out 25 and thrown at least 106 pitches in each start. Hes shown signs of the player who went 34-31 with a 3.86 ERA across three seasons in the brutal American League East.

The Cubs are taking the long view with Garza. First baseman Carlos Pena who played with him in Tampa Bay knows that the pitcher wont back down.

In baseball, its sometimes so volatile, Pena said. I know the tide should turn for him and at the end of the year were going to be very happy with what Garza brought to the table.

Even though he would love to see some nice numbers, hes still just going to keep on working. And know that at the end hes one of those short bets. I would still invest in his stock.

Patrick Mooney is's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

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Clayton Kershaw stands between Cubs and World Series: ‘To be the best, you got to beat the best’

Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man. 

“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!” 
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. 

“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow. 

“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it. 

“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”

Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.

In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Why are the Cubs so confident? Remember, this offense scored 808 runs during the regular season, more than every NL team except for the Colorado Rockies. This lineup knocked out October legend Madison Bumgarner after five innings in the divisional round (though pitcher Jake Arrieta delivered the three-run homer in a game the San Francisco Giants would win in extra innings). 

The Cubs should at least have a better idea of what to expect after getting that up-close view during a 1-0 loss in Game 2, the end of a 10-day period where the Dodgers used Kershaw for three starts and a division-series save against the Washington Nationals.  

Ben Zobrist – a veteran of 11 postseason series – explained: “His heater – as straight as it is – (comes from) the deception of his funky windup. You think you’re there, and it’s right above your barrel.”

“We’ll all be ready to go,” All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Any time you see a guy back-to-back, it’s always to our advantage as hitters. We just have to go out there and play our game and have good at-bats off a left-handed pitcher. 

“I know it’s Clayton Kershaw, but we really got to just focus in on having good at-bats.” 

The Dodgers still have to beat a leading Cy Young contender (Kyle Hendricks) and last year’s award winner (Arrieta) on back-to-back nights in a building that will be shaking if the Cubs take an early lead with a Kris Bryant home run. And until this October, Kershaw had a reputation for underachieving in the playoffs.

“We got to battle,” Bryant said. “We know Kershaw likes to keep his pitch count down, because he wants to pitch the whole game. He’s a competitor, so we got to find a way to work counts and not swing at the pitches that he wants us to.

“Any time you got the best in the game going at you, it’s a challenge. And it’s going to be fun.” 

That’s exactly how the Cubs have approached everything this year, with an Embrace-The-Target attitude and all this Flair for the dramatic. 

“To be the best, you got to beat the best,” Rizzo said.