Matt Garza tries to vent his frustrations behind closed doors and away from the cameras. He directs the anger toward himself and never shows up teammates.
If this is getting old, Garza wont say it out loud. He wants the responsibility on his shoulders, and believes he should finish whatever he starts. That fire is one reason why the Cubs think he could be a building block.
This one definitely appeared headed toward It is what it is, man territory, with Garza shrugging off another hard-luck decision in the interview room. The story changed late Monday night in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley Field.
Pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair worked a 12-pitch walk against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. Geovany Soto didnt swing and walked on four pitches.
An ex-Cardinal, Joe Mather, came through with the clutch hit, a two-out, two-run single up the middle that lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 walk-off victory they hope will be a jumpstart.
Just like that, Mather was getting the Gatorade bucket poured over his head and a shaving-cream pie pushed into his face. And Garza, who loves stuff like that, had to smile: That was one hell of a game.
Even with Albert Pujols out of the picture, the gap between the Cubs (5-12) and Cardinals (11-6) seems to be growing. No one else in the National League Central is above .500, and the last-place Cubs are six games out already.
If the Cubs are going to hang around this summer, it will be with their starting pitching. Garza went seven innings and allowed two runs, keeping them within striking distance.
My job is to go out there and take my team as deep (as) I can, Garza said. But enough about me. These guys played hard for nine. We didnt quit. And down to the last out, we just kept fighting and fighting.
Thats just a little more growth right there for our young club. Thats a huge step forward for us.
When Theo Epstein was asked earlier this month if the teams performance would impact what the Cubs might do with Garza, the team president simply said: No.
You can see someone who likes the big stage and clearly feels at home. In Garzas last 14 starts at Wrigley Field dating back to June 27 of last season he has a 1.84 ERA and has allowed three runs or less in each of those outings.
Garza only got into trouble in the fourth, which began with Skip Schumakers infield single and Matt Holliday lining a double to left. The Cardinals manufactured their two runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly and Garza got a little wild (hit batter, wild pitch, two walks). But it didnt become the big inning.
Hes a big-time, big-game pitcher, manager Dale Sveum said. He put himself in that situation, but it was more pitching to the lineup. He didnt let some guys hurt him. He knew the pitcher (Jaime Garcia) was coming up and thats just having a good head on your shoulders.
Seven times last season Garza left with the lead and didnt factor in the decision. This one looked like a loss until the final at-bat. The Cubs hope its a sign of things to come.
You sure hope so, Sveum said. Obviously, things havent gone that well at home. To do that off one of the best closers and the world champions is always a big springboard.