Game Seven – Cubs 8, Brewers 0
WP – Matt Garza (1-0) LP – Zack Greinke (1-1) Save – None
Everything fell into place for the Chicago Cubs on Thursday afternoon. Sveum’s team hit the ball, caught the ball and Matt Garza shut down the high-flying Brewers’ offense that scored 16 runs in the first three games of the series.
If not for his own throwing error on what should have been the final out of the game, Matt Garza would have tossed his first (fourth of his career) complete game shutout with the Cubs. Instead, Garza settled for 8 2/3 innings of three-hit ball (all singles) and tied Jeff Samardzija for the longest outing by a Cubs starter seven games into the year. Garza walked only two batters and struck out nine (Garza struck out the side in the third).
Garza admitted after the game that the ball slipped out of his hand and he was “pissed” at himself for the error that kept him from completing what he started. Garza said he understood why Dale Sveum lifted him with two outs in the ninth. Garza had already thrown 119 pitches, 83 for strikes, in his second start.
After just a miserable game Wednesday (0-for-7 with RISP and eight left on base), the Cubs offense changed their approach against Zack Greinke.
The Cubs scored a season-high eight runs on 13 hits and finished the day 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position, left only four runners on base and were 5-for-5 with RISP in the six-run third inning that pretty much ended Zack Greinke’s day.
The Cubs knocked Greinke out of the game with two outs in the fourth. The offense scored eight runs on nine hits against Greinke after he retired the first six batters he faced. Greinke strikeout five and issued one free pass. The Cubs scored all eight runs in two innings (six in the third and two in the fourth) without a home run … only two of the 13 hits went for extra bases.
Steve Clevenger (3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored) had a career day (first three hit game at the big league level) and started the scoring in the third with the Cubs first hit and the first of his two doubles on the afternoon. Clevenger and Reed Johnson (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) subbing for Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd jump started the offense.
Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a RBI, a run scored and a walk), Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored) and a seemingly rejuvenated Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base) had big contributions in Thursday’s win while David DeJesus (2-for-3 with two runs scored and a HBP) and Ian Stewart (2-for-4 with a RBI) chipped in with multi-hit efforts.
After coming up short in the first three games of the series, Dale Sveum was finally able to beat his old team for the first time.
With Thursday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 2-5 on the young season … Matt Garza worked out of his only real jam of the day in the first inning. After retiring Rickie Weeks on a grounder to short, Nyjer Morgan singled to left and advanced to second when Ryan Braun checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch. Garza pumped two strikes to Corey Hart before the Brewers’ right fielder flied out to right center. With runners on first and second with two down, Mat Gamel tapped back to Garza (1-2 pitch) for the third out.
Zack Greinke made quick work of the Cubs in the bottom of the first … 1-2-3 on 13 pitches.
Matt Garza ended up facing the minimum in the second after he issued his second walk of the game to Jonathan Lucroy with one out. Cesar Izturis, filling in at third for his old buddy Aramis Ramirez, grounded into a 6-3 inning ending double play.
The Cubs did nothing in the second and made Greinke throw only eight pitches … it looked like it was going to be another one of those days after two innings.
Matt Garza found his grove in the third and retired the Brewers in order … all three outs via a strikeout.
Steve Clevenger led off the third and worked the count to 2-2 before dropping a double down into left field. Reed Johnson followed with the first of five run scoring singles in the third inning. Johnson singled to left center and plated Clevenger with the Cubs’ first run.
After Matt Garza failed to get a bunt down, David DeJesus singled to center on a 1-2 pitch. With runners on first and second with one out, Darwin Barney drove in Johnson with a single to center … 2-0 Cubs. Starlin Castro singled to center on a 2-1 pitch and plated DeJesus with the Cubs third run.
Zack Greinke uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-2 offering. Lucroy blocked the ball but Barney made a good read and broke for third. Barney slid in safe and Castro advanced to second. Alfonso Soriano broke his bat and blooped a single over the drawn in Mat Gamel. Barney and Castro scored … and just like that the Cubs led 5-0.
With Ian Stewart at the plate, Soriano broke for second and slid in safe with his first stolen base of the year … and it led to a run. Ian Stewart beat the shift with a single to left, Soriano scored, 6-0 Cubs. Bryan LaHair grounded into a 3-6-3 double play to end the Cubs’ best inning of the season.
Matt Garza put together a shutdown inning in the fourth … 1-2-3 and Greinke had to go right back to the mound.
Steve Clevenger led off the fourth with his third double of the series. Clevenger went oppo again and drove a 3-2 pitch into the left field corner. Reed Johnson and Matt Garza struck out.
With two down and Clevenger still at second, David DeJesus hit s 2-2 pitch back up through the box. Alex Gonzalez gloved the ball that was ticketed for center but Mat Gamel misread the play and moved into position to receive the cutoff throw from center. Gonzalez threw to first … and no one was there to catch the ball. Clevenger scored and DeJesus ended up at second. Darwin Barney walked and chased Greinke from the game.
Manny Parra took over and gave up a single to Starlin Castro on a 2-1 pitch. DeJesus scored the Cubs’ eighth and final run. Soriano struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Brewers did nothing against Garza in the fifth.
Ian Stewart led off the bottom of the fifth with a single off the lefty Manny Parra … but Bryan LaHair struck out swinging, Clevenger flied out to center and Johnson was punched out to end the inning.
Joe Mather took over for Soriano in left in the sixth. Other than a one-out single by Nyjer Morgan, the Brewers did nothing against Garza in the sixth inning.
Manny Parra faced the minimum in the bottom of the sixth. After he plunked DeJesus with one out, Darwin Barney grounded into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play
Matt Garza sat down the Brewers in order in the seventh … and the Cubs did nothing against Tim Dillard in the bottom of the seventh.
Matt Garza started the eighth with a pitch count of 87, 62 for strikes, and surrendered his third hit of the game, a single to right off the bat of Jonathan Lucroy. Izturis fouled out to Clevenger on a 2-2 pitch and both Travis Ishikawa and Rickie Weeks struck out swinging to end the eighth.
After eight, Garza’s pitch count stood at 103, 74 for strikes.
Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger reached on back-to-back singles to start the eighth. But Reed Johnson hit into a 5-3 double play and with Clevenger at second, Garza struck out to end the inning.
The Cubs went to the ninth with a commanding 8-0 lead and Matt Garza in search of a complete game shutout.
Nyjer Morgan grounded out to short and Braun struck out swinging (3-2 pitch). Norichika Aoki put together another long at bat. Aoki ended up tapping back to Garza on a 3-2 pitch (sixth pitch of the at bat). Garza fielded the ball but airmailed his throw. The ball ended up in the stand, Aoki ended up at second and Dale Sveum went to his pen.
Shawn Camp replaced the unhappy (but understanding) Garza and retired George Kottaras on a grounder to short … game over.
The Cubs hit the road for the first time in 2012. Jeff Samardzija opens the three game series in St. Louis on Friday afternoon. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to take the hill for the Cardinals.
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