Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Chicago White Sox on July 2, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Matt Garza deserved better.
The Cubs starter threw the team's first complete game in over a year, since Ryan Dempster threw one -- also in a loss -- on June 22, 2010 in Seattle (an eight-inning CG). Dempster also threw the last Cubs CG before today at Wrigley Field, a five-hit shutout of the Pirates on September 29, 2009.
All it got for him was another notch in the "L" column, as the Cubs could not score in a 1-0 loss to the White Sox. And Garza got himself in trouble with walks. His second-inning walk to Brent Morel was almost completely inexcusable. Morel, before today, had walked just twice in 201 plate appearances. Garza walked him on four pitches. That didn't hurt as Garza got out of the inning -- and then gave up nothing else until he walked Gordon Beckham to lead off the sixth. Beckham had just 16 walks in 279 PA before today.
Walking the unwalkable. That generally leads to trouble; Juan Pierre broke up Garza's no-hitter one out later (the second no-no he's broken up by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley in the sixth inning or later), the ball dropping in front of Alfonso Soriano, to score the game's only run. Don't blame Sori -- the ball wasn't catchable. Blame Garza, for the walks.
The Cubs had plenty of chances to score, but kept hitting into double plays -- three in the first three innings. Or, more correctly, I should say they hit into two actual DP and one phantom; replays showed Beckham was clearly off the base when he took Morel's throw to get Marlon Byrd at second in the second inning. That brought out Mike Quade and Quade argued about as animatedly as I've ever seen him. He got tossed.
This is exactly the kind of play that could be subject to replay review. Get the call right, make the umpires look good, and the manager stays in the game. What could be wrong with that idea?
Anyway, the Cubs kept stranding runners, including both Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro in the sixth after they had led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and moved up to second and third with two out on a wild pitch by Philip Humber, who also threw an excellent game.
For all the dire weather forecasts of hot and humid weather the last two days, all of the heat and humidity suddenly drained out of Wrigley in the first inning when the wind shifted off the lake and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. The pitchers looked in command early, but that wind shift might have helped both Garza and Humber; only nine outs combined Saturday were made by outfielders. No rain fell and tomorrow's forecast is for sunny skies, low humidity and pleasant temperatures.
A win would be nice, too. The crowd of 42,165 was the largest ever for a Cubs/White Sox game at Wrigley Field, and it looked like there were few no-shows. Sox fans in general were into their team and the game and there were almost no incidents. Kind of like the whole Cubs season, actually -- no incidents, not much to see here, move along.
The Cubs will waste another start tomorrow by sending Rodrigo Lopez to the mound. Seriously, this use of retread pitchers who weren't really any good years ago is a waste of time. He'll face Gavin Floyd. It'll take a near-miracle to avoid a sweep. With that, try to enjoy the rest of your Saturday.