A Garza Gem – Cubs 3, Athletics 1

Game Eighty-Two – Cubs 3, Athletics 1

WP – Matt Garza (4-1) LP – Bartolo Colon (11-3) Save – Kevin Gregg (14)

wflag-pubMatt Garza picked up where he left off in Milwaukee and put together another dominating performance as the Cubs beat the A’s in Oakland on Wednesday night. Matt Garza outpitched Bartolo Colon in what was a pitcher’s duel from the first pitch of the game until the last.

Matt Garza held the Athletics to one run on four hits in eight innings. Garza was sharp once again and he made only one mistake against a very good lineup. Brandon Moss hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, the only blemish for Garza on the night. Garza did a good job of keep the A’s off balance. There were very few hard hit balls and while there were a lot of deep counts early, those were more of a product of facing Oakland’s pesky offense.

Matt Garza earned his third straight victory after allowing one run on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in eight innings. Garza threw a season-high 114 pitches, 71 for strikes. Matt Garza is 3-0 in his last four starts with a 0.90 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP (three runs on 19 hits with eight walks and 28 strikeouts in 30 innings).

Kevin Gregg struck out two of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close it out for Matt Garza.

The Cubs offense did just enough behind Garza to hand Bartolo Colon his first home loss of the season. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a run scored and a walk) with a two-out single in the first inning. Soriano made Colon pay for uncorking his first wild pitch since 2009 that allowed Castro to advance to second base.

Luis Valbuena (2-for-5 with a home run) gave Garza a little breathing room in the third with his first longball since May 30. Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) doubled in Dioner Navarro (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) in the eighth with a much needed insurance run. Julio Borbon (2-for-4 with a triple) had a good night with a multi-hit game.

The Cubs pounded out 12 hits with only one walk and finished the game 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

Wednesday’s victory guaranteed the Cubs a winning road trip and Dale Sveum’s team improved to 36-46 on the season after handing the A’s only their fourth loss in the last 21 games at the Coliseum.

Starlin Castro reached on an infield single up the middle with one out in the first inning. Schierholtz popped out to left for the second out. Bartolo Colon uncorked a wild pitch on his first offering to Soriano. Colon’s first wild pitch as an Athletic and first since 2009 allowed Castro to advance to second. Alfonso Soriano hit a 2-2 pitch off the end of his bat and lofted a single into left center. Castro scored and gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Rizzo fouled out to Donaldson to end the inning.

Matt Garza surrendered a one-out single to Seth Smith in the first … but that was all. Garza retired three of the four batters he faced on 13 pitches, eight for strikes.

The game remained 1-0 through the second inning. Garza set down three of the four he faced in the second. Garza issued a one-out walk to Josh Donaldson and needed 32 pitches, 19 for strikes, to complete two innings on Wednesday night.

Luis Valbuena stepped in with one out in the third after Borbon bunted back to Colon to start the inning. Valbuena lifted a 1-2 pitch to deep right. Josh Reddick timed his jump at the wall perfectly but the ball hit off his glove and fell behind the wall. Valbuena’s first homer since May 30 gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. After Castro grounded out to third, Yoenis Cespedes misplayed a sinking liner off the bat of Nate Schierholtz into a triple. Alfonso Soriano could not cash in the mistake but drove Crisp all the way to the wall in center to end the inning … Soriano just missed another homer.

Matt Garza retired the side in order in the third … 41 pitches, 28 for strikes, after three for Garza.

After the Cubs went quickly and quietly in the fourth, Garza retired Lowrie and Cespedes to start the fourth. Brandon Moss stepped in and crushed a hanging breaking ball on 1-0 pitch from Garza. The ball hit off the scoreboard in right center and Moss’ 15th homer of the season cut the Cubs’ lead to 2-1. Garza caught Donaldson looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs were not able to tack on in the fifth after Julio Borbon reached on a one out single and advanced to second on a two-out single by Castro. Nate Schierholtz flied out to center on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Matt Garza worked around a one-out walk in the fifth. The Athletics kept running up his pitch count and Garza started elevating the baseball. Garza needed 77 pitches, 46 for strikes, to complete five innings.

Dioner Navarro managed a two-out single in the sixth but that was all and Garza took the hill in the sixth clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Matt Garza worked his way out of a jam in the sixth. Jed Lowrie reached on a one-out single, just the third hit off of Garza on the night. Garza walked Cespedes and Moss stepped in with runners on first and second with one down. Garza struck out Moss swinging on three pitches. Josh Donaldson flied out to right center to end the inning. Garza threw 93 pitches, 58 for strikes, in six innings.

The Cubs could not cash in a one-out triple by Julio Borbon in the seventh. Borbon lashed a 0-1 pitch into the left field corner. Cespedes took a bad route and Borbon ended up a third. With the infield in, Luis Valbuena popped Colon’s first pitch into shallow left. Lowrie raced back and caught the ball for the second out. Starlin Castro walked but Schierholtz flied out to left for the third out. The Cubs were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base after seven innings.

Matt Garza set down the side in order in the seventh and threw 104 pitches, 65 for strikes, over seven innings.

Sean Doolittle replaced Colon in the eighth. Dioner Navarro reached with a two-out double to left. Dale Sveum left Bogusevic into face the lefty and he delivered. Brian Bogusevic drove a 0-2 pitch into left. Cespedes misplayed another ball. Navarro scored, Bogusevic ended up a second but was stranded when Barney grounded out to second to end the inning.

With the Cubs up 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, Garza stayed in and surrendered a single to Coco Crisp. Smith grounded out to first. Crisp advanced to second then tagged and went to third when Lowrie flied out to deep center. Cespedes popped out to second on what could have been Garza’s last pitch in a Cubs’ uniform to end the inning.

At the end of eight, the Cubs led 3-1.

The Cubs could not tack on in the ninth and Kevin Gregg took the hill with a two-run lead. Gregg issued a two-out walk to John Jaso before battling back from a 2-0 count and striking out Josh Reddick swinging to end the game.

Travis Wood faces Dan Straily in the series finale on Thursday afternoon.

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  • paulcatanese

    Garza pitched a gem, period, and not what he will bring in a return,he just pitched a gem period.

  • paulcatanese

    Oakland announcers were very complimentary to the Cubs tonight, spoke well of all, and praised Garza.
    Also did a great job complimenting Banks and Santo.
    Class act.

  • Sean

    I’m pretty neutral as to whether the Cubs should trade or sign Garza. Obviously if we trade him I hope for a good haul, and if we sign him it’s at a reasonable price, but I think that either way the time to act is now. His trade value can’t be much higher than it is now, and we have multiple teams bidding against each other. The longer we hold onto him the more other teams will A. drop out of division races, or B. he runs the risk of getting injured or have a couple rough outings. That being said it’s been fun to watch his last couple outings and it will still be hard to watch him pitch for another club.

    • paulcatanese

      Tough for me to read that Garza will be traded, and every time he takes the mound its for the purpose of building his value for a return in a trade, that’s cold.
      Also hard to take that Garza is not figured in the Cubs future plans according to many. That’s cold.

      • Tony_Hall

        Garza is in the future plans if he wants to sign an extension, but it has become obvious that he wants his chance at free agency and to max out his next contract, which is his right that has taken him 8 years since he was drafted by the Twins and been with the Rays and now the Cubs.

        He has made around $40M in his career, so it is not like he isn’t already financially secure, but what that has given him is the ability to wait out his injuries and decide for himself where he will pitch. I know some people will call this greedy, but I look at this way, if I had no control of where I worked until I turned 30 years old, I doubt I would give up that right when I was 29, especially if I was already financially secure.

        • John_CC

          Agreed, Tony.

          I am a little concerned with the comments Samardjiza made the other day, i.e. his complaints about trading Feldman. First, he should keep his mouth shut and stick to the grade school maxim “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” when it comes to the working of the FO, second it concerns me that he might be looking to move out before the rebuild is over.

      • Ray Ray

        Agree Paul. I will miss seeing Garza in a Cub uniform. I wish they could have extended him earlier but it looks like that is not possible. Garza wants to be paid and he will be. With his attitude…..he probably cannot wait to get in a pennant race again like he was with the Rays. He is a great competitor and I enjoyed watching him compete the last couple of years.

        • Suzy S

          I agree with everyone above…the Cubs will do well to develop several Garza-like pitchers.
          The business of baseball dictates that a lot of favorite players must move on for financial/contractual reasons.
          I understand it…but don’t always like it.

          • JasonPen

            Garza hasn’t done anything to be labeled one of my “favorite” players. I hope they can try and maximize his value and get a top prospect in return. I think it would be a huge mistake to extend him or resign him, knowing that he will get a contract for an ace, and he isn’t an ace. That being said, I still wish him the best of luck with his new team.

          • paulcatanese

            Jason, I understand Garza not being one of you’re favorites. Let me ask, who would be on this team? None of them have been there long enough (besides Soriono) to even build up a fan base.

            As far as being an ace, who is one this team? In my opinion any of them could be classified as an ace, one has to remember what they have for a bullpen and how many good starts have been lost in the last two innings

          • JasonPen

            If I had to pick one, I’d say Samarzija. But I guess I don’t pick favorites too easily.

            My favorite player used to be Zambrano, I’ll be honest.

            My definition of an ace, is someone you are confident enough about to put up against any pitcher or any team, and know you have a good chance to win. Justin Verlander is an example, or Clayton Kershaw. There are probably less than a dozen pitchers I would say that about.

            The term gets tossed around too much in my opinion. It waters down the meaning for the truly dominant pitchers.

          • paulcatanese

            That’s a pretty fair assessment
            Jason, it takes a little more to be a shut down pitcher with the Cubs though, considering the offense that is out there for the pitcher.
            Just too many losses for pitchers that had little or no support, they must pitch in a constant mode of pressure to keep the other team down.
            Even when they have shut teams down or maybe one or two runs, the difficulty of scoring runs has been lacking, or even when they were ahead by a narrow margin, the bullpen cannot get it done.
            The guys that you were mentioning are shut down people, but another fact, they
            have the ability to go the full nine innings, something that the Cubs have been unable to do, based on either stretching guys out, or off the DL, for one reason or another
            they cannot get it done.
            But I agree the guys you mentioned are ace’s.

          • JasonPen

            I would also agree that an ace should be able to finish a game and go the full nine innings when you need him too. You’re right, the Cubs haven’t had a guy like that for a long time. Dempster would want to stay in, but we all know what used to happen. He’d blow his game in the 8th or 9th.
            I’m still on the David Price trade bandwagon. I have a feeling they will trade him, and I wouldn’t mind giving up a few of our ‘blocked’ prospects for David Price in his prime. Vogelbach, Baez, Lake, Scurzur…. Those guys would have their bags packed for Tampa if I was the GM.