Two starts into his season, Matt Garza had yet to pick up a win.
In fact, he hadn't picked one up since July 15 of last season. In that game, Garza turned in seven shutout innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. But a pair of injury recoveries later, Garza was making his third start of 2013 against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.
Had the fates aligned?
Whether you want to believe they had or not, Garza did get that first win of the year on Friday, as the Cubs beat the Diamondbacks, 7-2, in the first game of a weekend set on the North Side.
Garza turned in a strong performance, going seven innings--his longest outing since that July 15 game--and allowing just two runs on six hits. He walked none and struck out four.
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“I was more pumped about going deep [in the game].” Garza said. “I wanted to keep going, but [Cubs manager Dale] Sveum had another plan and it worked out in our favor. I’m pumped to get it out of the way, win No. 1, yeah it’s huge, but I’m just glad we kept this thing rolling.”
For Friday’s performance, the pitcher and the manager both credited the rediscovery of Garza’s normal plan of attack. Last time out against Cincinnati, Garza allowed four runs in just four innings of work. He also walked four, hit a batter and surrendered a home run.
“Today, he obviously had a good fastball,” Sveum said. “He got ahead, got outs early. He didn’t really use a whole lot of breaking balls, kind of late in the counts. That’s that mentality he has and got away from him his last game. He had too many breaking balls and kind of lost his fastball, lost command of his fastball. But it was a perfect day for us to go deep in the game.”
“I’m just a guy who’s going to go out there and pound the zone and attack,” Garza said. “And the last couple starts, I’ve been kind of pitching around it. Getting high pitch counts early, that’s not who I am. I go after guys, make them put it in play. I’ll get my punchouts, get my outs and just do what I’ve got to do.”
Garza not only kept the Diamondbacks in check, but he did it on a day where the wind was blowing out of Wrigley Field. Cubs hitters took advantage of that off Arizona starter Wade Miley, scoring seven times on three home runs.
That big lead was good for Garza, with teammates saying it helped him settle in, but the pitcher himself said that a big lead does not mean it’s time to relax.
“You go pitch, you still attack,” he said. “You don’t get off that pedal because once you do, it’s a big league ball club, they can turn around just like we did. With the wind here, it can happen really quick.”
There was one thing Garza didn’t do Friday: hit. Cubs pitchers have gained league-wide attention for their stick-swinging of late, with even the light-hitting Garza driving in a pair of runs two starts ago against the Pirates. But Travis Wood’s grand slam on Thursday was a hard act to follow, and Garza struck out three times. Still, he was adamant that he’d continue to work hard.
“I’ve got to keep up,” he said. “I missed two fastballs today and just swung over those sliders. I’m just going to keep working and get right back into it.”