Garza dominates, suggests he can be better

PHILADELPHIA -- With playoff hockey going on across the street Sunday in Philadelphia, maybe Matt Garza just wanted to make sure the Chicago Cubs postgame team bus would be able to beat traffic.

The right-hander put in an efficient seven innings Sunday, allowing just one hit in a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies while at one point recording outs on 19 consecutive batters. The outing rivaled his 8 2/3-inning showing on April 12 for being in total control.

“The game plan was to keep them off balance and try to induce weak ground balls or weak popups and that’s exactly what worked,” Garza said. “Certain things were there and certain weren’t. I threw a curveball about 22 feet high but other than that everything else was cool.”

Garza’s only hit allowed came to the first batter he faced on the day, Jimmy Rollins. After that he started mowing down batters one by one, but wasn’t kicking himself that he could have been in the midst of a perfect game had he pitched differently to Rollins.

“Nah, I was just taking it out by out,” Garza said. “That’s what I’ve been doing the last two outings. I just want to go hitter to hitter. You have to have all kinds of respect for those guys because it is the Phillies, you know. They’re a tough team. I just went out there and stuck to my game plan.”

Dale Sveum had no issue with the concept that when Garza is on his game he can be every bit as dominating as aces like Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and even a pair of Phillies pitchers in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

“When he’s right he has four pitches he can deal with, as well as velocity,” Sveum said. “He can go from 91 [mph] with his sinker and four-seam it up in the zone and get popups and swing and misses. He has a very good knack of what he’s doing out there too.”

Something about pitching against the Phillies seems to agree with Garza. He faced them in the 2008 World Series while he was with Tampa Bay and gave up four runs over six innings in a no-decision. In the regular season, he has allowed one earned run or less in all four of his career starts against Philadelphia, good for a 2.89 ERA against them.

His 10 strikeouts Sunday gave him 10 career double-digit strikeout games with the last coming last September against the Milwaukee Brewers.

One hit allowed with 10 strikeouts would seem to be very dominating, but Garza did say that certain things weren’t there during his outing. Is he suggesting he could be even more dominating?

“If I don’t get in my own way,” he said. “If I don’t try to think too much and go after these guys and get us back in [the dugout]. They were really aggressive and that kind of played into my hand.”