Matt Garza traded the Wrigley Field interview room/dungeon for a dimly-lit, narrow hallway outside the visitor's clubhouse following the Cubs' 3-0 win over Milwaukee on Saturday.
The setting may have been different, but for Garza, the feeling after a loss -- his fourth of the season -- was still the same.
"Of course I'm frustrated, man," Garza said. "What, do you think I'm happy? It's the worst freakin' start of my career, dude. Yeah, I'm frustrated. I hate this, I hate this feeling. It's just keep grinding and keep getting ready every five days. That's about it. That's about all I can do."
Whereas Garza pitched well with the Cubs (a 3.45 ERA in 60 starts), he hasn't got off to the kind of start that earned him a four-year, $50 million contract with Milwaukee in January. First inning struggles have put a damper on his season, with the right-hander allowing 10 runs in the opening frame over nine starts.
That's where the Cubs garnered all their runs on Saturday, with Starlin Castro ripping a two-out RBI double off the top of the right center field wall and Welington Castillo pulling a two-run double down the left field line. Garza allowed just one hit over the next six innings, retiring 12 Cubs in a row at one point.
But thanks to those first-inning issues (and a non-existent offense), Garza was saddled with a loss.
"First inning was a hiccup, and it sucks. It's kinda been what it's been like all year, it just sucks," Garza said. "I'm just going to keep going, keep grinding, keep working out and keep going. It's going to come together sooner or later."
The Cubs were a .500 club with Garza on the mound from 2011-2013, far better than club's full-season winning percentages. But those games didn't come with the pressure of being in first place or fighting for a playoff spot, as Garza's Brewers are already doing.
Garza was received neither warmly or coldly by the crowd of 36,671 in his return to Wrigley Field, which lustily booed Ryan Braun every time the Brewers' slugger came up to the plate. On Saturday, what the Cubs did -- specifically, Edwin Jackson, who struck out 11 over seven shutout innings -- turned out to be just as big a story as Garza's return.
The Cubs traded for Garza before the 2011 season with the hope he'd be a key rotation piece for a team that won 75 games in 2010. That never happened, as Garza "ran out of hope" despite generally pitching well in a Cubs uniform.
Garza said he wasn't more amped up to pitch at Wrigley Field than he is anywhere else. He wasn't on the mound to take everything in and reminisce about his two and a half years at Clark and Addison.
The Brewers are in first place, and Garza feels he needs to pitch better to help keep them there.
"Nah, man. I'll think about memories when my career's over," Garza said. "Right now, I got a job to do and that's go out there and give my team a chance to win. I didn't do my job today."