Cubs

Garza: No quit, Cubs will fight to the end

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Garza: No quit, Cubs will fight to the end

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 5:54 p.m. Updated: 7:01 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

There is only one way Matt Garza keeps score. He doesnt care about his personal record. He views it as a zero-sum game.

This is why Cubs general manager Jim Hendry spent weeks on the phone trying to pry Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays.

You could see it as the San Diego Padres froze at 94 mph fastballs, and flailed at 89 mph sliders darting toward the dirt. With the winds whipping around Wrigley Field, they looked helpless.

Garza deserved his first win in a Cubs uniform. He delivered six shutout innings on Wednesday afternoon, but this one wasnt decided until the 11th, when Reed Johnson smashed a 1-1 slider from Padres reliever Luke Gregerson.

The line drive landed in the left-field bleachers for a 2-1 walk-off victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader.

As long as at the end of the day we get that big W (on) our side, Garza said. Im here to get to October. Any way we can do it Im all for it. If I dont win a game all year, but we win my games, it doesnt bother me one bit.

The Cubs are expecting bigger and better things from Garza, a proven playoff performer who is under their control through 2013. But this was another step in the right direction.

It was 42 degrees at first pitch and Garza struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, and nine overall. He gave up six singles, three of which didnt leave the infield.

Garza who came into the game with a 6.27 ERA vowed that things were going to change. Not that the Cubs were overly concerned.

Hes pounded the strike zone, manager Mike Quade said. His idea of attacking hitters in this league and in this division is evolving, how he mixes his soft game with his fastball. (Hes) not off to a great start, but I think his history says that hes going to get better.

There was Garza standing alone on the mound. He took his hat off, rubbed his head and looked toward the sky. He took a long, deep breath.

The bases were loaded in the sixth because Garza had suddenly lost control and walked three batters. Just when it looked like things might unravel, he forced Brad Hawpe into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play and started to pump his fist.

But ultimately this game was out of Garzas hands. These are the margins the Cubs are working with: Garza himself scored their first run and they had been shut out in his previous two starts.

In the long run, just pitch good, Quade said, and you believe the support will come.

Carlos Marmol blew the save the only way he knows how: walk, stolen base, bunt, sacrifice fly. When the closer fails, he says the other team got lucky.

The Padres didnt need a hard-hit ball to tie it in the ninth. It gave new life to a team that had gone 18 consecutive innings without scoring a run against the Cubs.

But with the pitching staff already stretched thin, Jeff Samardzija stepped up to throw two scoreless innings. He walked three and gave up two hits but managed to escape a bases-loaded jam in the 11th to earn the win.

Thats fine with Garza, who has brought an edge and a sense of intensity to this team.

Theres a lot of fight in us, Garza said. We dont quit after nine. We play hard until they ring that final bell and get that final out. Q told us in spring: We need to be resilient. Its definitely showing that we are.

Were fighters. Were not going to roll over. Were going to be scrappy until the end.

Box Score

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Winter heat in I-94 rivalry: Cubs reportedly in 'active talks' with Yu Darvish after report of Brewers' offer

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USA TODAY

Winter heat in I-94 rivalry: Cubs reportedly in 'active talks' with Yu Darvish after report of Brewers' offer

Yu Darvish might have more suitors than just the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. But a frozen offseason might finally be thawing thanks to the I-94 rivalry.

Hours after it was reported that the Brewers made a contract offer to Darvish, one of the top free-agent starting pitchers on the market, a report from the Associated Press indicated that the Cubs are in "active talks" with the Japanese hurler.

The North Siders have been connected to Darvish — and most other available starting pitchers — throughout the offseason as they seek to plug the holes created by the free-agent departures of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. So far, those efforts have yielded the signing of Tyler Chatwood and the insertion of Mike Montgomery, not exactly replacements that would be expected to fill an Arrieta-sized hole.

But Darvish would accomplish that goal. He's been stellar since coming over from Japan ahead of the 2012 season, making four American League All-Star teams with the Texas Rangers and last season helping the Los Angeles Dodgers reach the World Series after a midseason trade out of Arlington. Darvish made nine regular-season starts with the Dodgers, posting a 3.44 in those contests. He shut down the Cubs in the National League Championship Series, throwing 6.1 innings of one-run ball in Game 3 of that series. He fared much worse in the World Series, however, surrendering eight earned runs in two starts that lasted just 1.2 innings apiece against that incredibly potent Houston Astros lineup.

Despite faltering in the Fall Classic, Darvish figures to be a top-of-the-line addition to the team that eventually signs him. He has a career 3.42 ERA in five major league seasons and has eclipsed the 200-strikeout mark in three of those, including last year, when his 209 punch outs ranked 12th in baseball.

To add Darvish to a starting staff that already includes Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and the aforementioned Chatwood would perhaps once more give the Cubs the best rotation in the NL. If it's the Brewers, it could go a long way in making them a serious challenger to the Cubs, something they almost accomplished in 2017 as their rebuilding efforts moved ahead of schedule.

Cubs president Theo Epstein said during the team's annual convention earlier this month that his front office planned on adding another starting pitcher, though he made sure to point out that the addition could fit a number of different descriptions. While fans and observers both have been waiting for the team to land one of the high-profile free agents — be that Darvish, Alex Cobb or even bringing back Arrieta — Epstein cautioned that a move could be made to simply add depth, something that doesn't really exist behind Montgomery, the guy currently figuring to be in that fifth spot in the rotation.

The Cubs also made a minor move that could have an impact on where Darvish decides to play, signing catcher Chris Gimenez to a minor league deal Monday. Gimenez and Darvish played together in Texas.

Reliving the magic of Nacho Man

Reliving the magic of Nacho Man

There have been so many memorable baseball moments between the Cubs and Cardinals throughout the years. 

In 1958, Stan  Musial collected his 3,000th hit at Wrigley.  

There was the “Sandberg Game” — June of 1984, where Ryne Sandberg hit a pair of home runs off Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter.

Skip ahead to 2008, when Ted Lilly collided with Yadier Molina at home plate during a game at Busch Stadium. Few could forget that.

Just a few years ago, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch in what the Cubs viewed as retaliation, so Joe Maddon dropped the Soprano reference: “We don’t start stuff, but we will stop stuff.”

And last season, there was Addison Russell’s run-in with Nacho Man, which is likely to go down as the only collision to bring the two rival fanbases together.

It was something I witnessed firsthand. Sitting next to the Cubs dugout on the third base side in Busch Stadium that night, the play transpired so quickly it was tough to see from my vantage point.  As he often did, Russell broke backward for the foul ball and started sprinting towards the wall in left. I could tell from the crowd reaction that the Cubs shortstop didn’t make the play, but I could see that he was slow to get back to his position. It was about this time that the video board in center field showed the replay of Russell diving into the stands and crashing into a Cardinals fan who had lost his full plate of nachos.

Russell had nacho cheese all over his arm and I heard the dugout yelling, “Get him a towel! Grab a towel!”  As Russell wiped the cheese off his arm, a few of the coaches next to me were collaborating on a way to get some new nachos for the man. Within minutes, a tray of nachos were delivered to Dave Martinez — the Cubs' bench coach at the time — and later passed along to Russell. In between innings, the often-reserved infielder made amends by bringing out another order of nachos and taking a selfie with Nacho Man.

"Normally I don't do that, but being the case of me being nacho'd all over — my cleats even — I was like, 'you know what, why not?'" Russell said after the game. "A once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Within minutes, the video of this exchange went viral. Both myself and Jim Hayes of Fox Sports Midwest set out to get our in-game interview with Andrew Gudermuth, the Nacho Man. Not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but it was entertaining nonetheless and boy did Gudermuth enjoy his 15 minutes of fame.  

“I came to catch a foul ball, but instead I caught a Russell,” he joked.  

Which to be more accurate, Gudermuth’s poor girlfriend actually “caught a Russell.” If you watch the replay, she took the brunt of the hit, but what a good sport!

No doubt, an unforgettable night for all involved, and one that proved that one thing can bring Cubs & Cardinals fans together — nachos!