Starting pitcher Matt Garza is finally back with the Chicago Cubs, and his pitching seems to be better than ever.
Making his first appearance since last July, Garza took the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night, ready to help his team after battling an arm injury since Spring Training. Given the right-hander’s questionable health with past injuries, Garza defied all odds, proving that he is healthy enough to keep his position on the Cubs’ starting rotation.
Throughout five innings of work, Garza struck out five, gave up three walks and allowed just one hit. It was an amazing start from a guy just back from the disabled list, and he certainly did his team proud.
In typically Cubs fashion, it was too early to get excited about the Cubs’ 3-0 lead after Garza was pulled in the fifth. As usual, the bullpen wasn’t able to protect the work of the starting pitcher, ruining Garza’s hard work. The worst came with two outs in the bottom of the sixth when Pirates’ pinch-hitter Travis Snider crushed a grand slam off of Shawn Camp, ending Garza and the Cubs’ hope of a win.
We’ve seen this scenario play out countless times: the starting pitcher has a phenomenal start, yet the bullpen can’t hang on when they step in the close out the game. What does this say about this team? It says that if they want a chance at winning, they need some decent relief pitching to support the efforts that the starter give each time they take the mound.
The RBI by Starlin Castro in the top of the ninth was nice, but not enough for the Cubs to overcome the Pirates, as they lost 5-4.
It’s unfortunate that the bullpen couldn’t help get Garza a win for his season debut, but with a stronger bullpen, the Cubs have the potential to win more games. Until they get the help they need, it’s probably safe to assume we’ll see more of these heartbreakingly close games.