CHICAGO – Cubs pitcher Matt Garza seemingly took the high road before he ever faced a Reds batter.
He responded to a Twitter follower Monday night who suggested he throw at Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips in retaliation for the much-discussed Johnny Cueto incident in the teams’ last meeting three weeks ago. Garza said there was “no chance” he would do that.
He kept his word, but the Reds found their own way to shut up – and shut down – the talkative Garza. The Reds feasted on nearly anything he threw during the five-plus innings Garza was in the game. Ultimately, Garza allowed nine runs, including six in the sixth inning, in a 12-2 loss to the Reds.
“It’s just another game,” Garza said. “I know everybody made a big deal about the Cueto-me thing but that was over the day I left [Cincinnati].”
Garza had stepped onto the mound 175 times entering Tuesday and never pitched as poorly as he did against the Reds. The nine earned runs were a career high, surpassing the seven Garza allowed eight times during his eight-year career. Garza’s fastball was particularly ineffective. Six of the Reds’ nine runs came on a hit against his four-seam fastball. Xavier Paul’s three-run homer in the sixth was the only exception.
“It’s one of those nights you brush off and get ready for the next five,” Garza said. “The only pitch that upset me was the hanging slider to Paul.”
In his five starts since opening the season May 21, Garza hasn’t been consistent. He followed each of his outings in which he allowed two runs or less with a so-so performance with four runs allowed. Fortunately for Garza, the Cubs found a way to win those games, but the offense couldn’t overcome such a big deficit Tuesday with Reds rookie left-hander Tony Cingrani on the mound. Cingrani held the Cubs to two runs on four hits in seven innings.
“It’s keeping the ball down and fastball command,” manager Dale Sveum said of Garza’s outing. “I don’t think he really had his slider.”
Garza attributed some of his struggles since coming off the disabled list to trying to get on the same page with catcher Welington Castillo. Garza put some of the responsibility on himself in guiding Castillo.
“I haven’t thrown to Welly, that’s what spring training’s for so I get the feel of him, he gets the feel of me,” Garza said.