Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 10:08 p.m. Updated: 11:57 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
DENVER The anger and the defiance had disappeared by the time Matt Garza stood up in front of his locker. His voice was steady and measured as he looked from here to the end of September.
Its gonna turn I know it is, Garza said late Friday night. I know its a long season. (I have to) keep going out there, keep throwing, keep battling. Thats all I can do. I cant look for some secret answer.
Garzas heart and his fast-twitch muscles urge him to be a power pitcher. Its part of his identity. The Cubs want him to improve his soft game and find a way to finesse hitters, without robbing him of the aggressiveness that made him so successful in the past.
Everyone might have found a balance at Coors Field, but Garza was sabotaged by one bad inning in a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 30,285 fans.
The 11-2 Rockies baseballs first team to reach double-digit victories are on a seven-game winning streak. For the Cubs (6-7) to get on a roll like that, they will need their frontline pitchers to play up to expectations.
Garza didnt back down and felt like he mixed around his 119 pitches well, but at this point their big offseason get is 0-2 with a 6.27 ERA.
He just keeps competing, manager Mike Quade said. As long as hes making pitches with that mindset hell be fine. It hasnt been a great start for him and he knows that. But hes still working and I still believe hes going to a hell of a pitcher (in) this rotation.
Garza will need to learn the National Leagues hitters, and adjust to playing in a new city and a bigger market, but insists that will not faze him. Whats overlooked in the trade from Tampa Bay is that Garza went from one of the games best defensive teams in 2010 to one of its worst.
This game pivoted with the bases loaded in the second inning. Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta launched an 86 mph slider that soared over Marlon Byrds head and just beyond his glove in center.
Catch-22, Byrd said. You want to play deep, but at the same time (if) he hits a ground ball up the middle, I dont throw the guy out and two runs score. (I) just want to get a better jump next time.
Byrd was playing shallow, and his teammates think of him as a Gold Glove outfielder for the angles he takes and the reads he makes. Starlin Castro took Byrds relay throw and didnt seem to gather himself.
Castro fired toward third base to try to get Iannetta, but the ball sailed into the dugout as the Cubs fell behind 4-0 on a bases-clearing triple.
Garza didnt give in and look for an easy out, which is why the Cubs arent worried. He left after six innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. Its not all on him.
The Cubs offense didnt get any sort of bounce playing at Coors Field. In the three games Garza has started, the Cubs have scored four runs combined, and zero in his last two outings.
Hes a bulldog, Byrd said. He goes out there and gives us a chance. He kept us in the game and thats where the offense needs to come through and have his back. (We) need to step up for him.
Garza didnt blame his offense or his defense. He gave no excuses about the thin mountain air. He looked inward.
Its frustrating, but you just got to stay positive and keep working (and) know that grind is going to pay off, Garza said. Ive been through droughts like this. Keep going right at it head-first, thats about all I can do.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.