5/21 Pirates 5, Cubs 4
Matt Garza had a solid debut but it wasn’t enough. Travis Snider spoiled Garza’s return with a pinch-hit grand slam in the sixth off Shawn Camp to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night.
In his first start since July 21, Garza walked three, struck out five, and gave up one hit, a soft single to right by Clint Barmes with one out in the fifth. The plan was to limit Garza to 80-90 pitches, and he was lifted afer 82. He had missed the second half of 2012 because of right elbow problems and strained his left lat Feb. 17. After having his patience tested, Garza finally made his season debut.
“It’s nice to have that kind of caliber starter back in your rotation,” Dale Sveum said.
Garza is the most animated player in the dugout on days he’s not pitching but tends to keep to himself before his starts, watching videos on his iPad.
“I think the first inning will be the key as to how things will go,” Sveum said. “There’s no question in all of our minds he’ll be pumped up out there.”
The right-hander threw 22 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the first and was saved by Julio Borbon, who snared Andrew McCutchen’s fly ball on the run, then slammed into the fence.
Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo each singled in the second, and with two outs, Darwin Barney delivered a RBI single. Garza then doubled into the gap in right center to drive in two more and open a 3-0 lead. Cubs pitchers now have 13 RBIs this month, tops in the Major Leagues. It was Garza’s second career double.
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the sixth against Hector Rondon, and James Russell took over and walked Pedro Alvarez to force in a run. Camp replaced Russell, and one out later, Snider launched a 2-1 pitch into the center field bleachers for his first career grand slam.
Before the game, Sveum was asked about the importance of having Garza back in the rotation.
“To have the ability to have guys who have no-hitter type stuff going out there is always a nice asset to have,” Sveum said.
Garza nearly pulled it off.
— Carrie Muskat