Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

September 2011 Archives

Cubs' Garza breaks even, looks for bigger things in '12

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

He didn't get the 200 he wanted. But Matt Garza will settle for .500.

The Cubs' best pitcher all season long - and by far their hardest-luck pitcher - pitched another seven strong innings to beat the San Diego Padres 6-2 late Tuesday night to earn his fourth straight victory and finish his first season as a Cub 10-10.

``I don't consider him a .500 pitcher,'' manager Mike Quade said of his most consistent pitcher in 2011. ``I guess the numbers bear him out on that. His ERA and quality starts and all of it - that's all you can do is go out and keep your club in the game.

``For as tough a season as it's been at times, where the hell would be have been without him?''

Garza, who finishes the season with a 3.32 ERA and 20 quality starts, went 6-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts since the All-Star break - with the Cubs winning eight of his last nine, including his final six.

``It is what it is,'' said Garza, who was disappointed he fell two innings short of his goal of 200 (a result of a two-week DL stint two months into the season). ``I'm happy the way I ended the season. I'm not happy that we're not playing in October, but I'll just take what I did and try to keep rolling in the off-season and get ready for next season.

``I'm hoping to make it better. I'm going to try to improve - another year under my belt, a couple more lessons learned. For me, I think the sky's the limit and I'm just going to keep trying to build until I get there.''

It took a late rally for the Cubs and Garza to get his 10th win - putting him at .500 for the first time this season.

Alfonso Soriano's three-run homer in the eighth gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead - and gave Soriano 26 homers and 88 RBI (a personal best in his five years with the Cubs).

They added two more in the ninth on Blake DeWitt's pinch-hit single.

The Cubs enter the final game of the season Wednesday night with a chance to tie Pittsburgh for fourth in the division and more significantly - if symbolically - to finish off two straight winning months for the first time since 2008.

Cubs' kids shut out by San Diego ``varsity''

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

It has come down to this: Pittsburgh's magic number for clinching fourth place ahead of the Cubs is just one after the Cubs lost a 2-0 game to the San Diego Padres late Monday night on ``Cubs Kids Day'' at Petco Park.

Casey Coleman matched hard-throwing Mat Latos nearly out for out through five innings until legging out a one-out triple in the top of the sixth that left him too winded to get through the bottom half of the inning.

And a Cubs lineup that included just one player who has completed a full season in the big leagues - cleanup man Carlos Pena - managed just two hits.

Besides Coleman's triple - which went for naught when next-batter Tony Campana inexplicably tried to bunt for a hit with the bases loaded - Starlin Castro singled leading off the seventh for his National League-leading 204th hit.

He, too, was stranded at third after stealing second and advancing to third on an infield grounder.

``I wanted to see these guys against the varsity a little bit, and they saw some very good pitching,'' Quade said of Latos (9-14) and veteran relievers Chad Qualls and Heath Bell (43rd save).

Notes and quotes from the night:

--The Cubs need to win their final two games Tuesday and Wednesday to pull off back-to-back winning months for the first time since 2008.

--Catcher Steve Clevenger, who played the whole game, and reliever Rafael Dolis, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, each made his major league debut Monday night.

--Quade on Clevenger: ``I thought he did good. He received well. ... That's a kid that a few years ago, there were questions about his catching ability. I think he's erased a lot of those. He looked good to me and did a lot of things you want to see.''

--Quade said he expects Aramis Ramirez to start today after being sidelined since last Tuesday, when he aggravated a sore quad.

--Despite the loss, Coleman (3-9, 6-40) finished the season stronger than he started. He was 1-3, 4.59 in his last six starts - 1-2, 3.34, if you take out the bad one in Cincinnati Sept. 14.

--Coleman on his season: ``Just a learning experience. I picked up on something late in the year [working with pitching coach Mark Riggins] and had a decent last few starts. The one in Cincinnati was bad; I didn't pitch good, didn't handle the game good. But other than that I felt I made a lot of improvements with Riggy, who helped me out and Q being patient with me late in the year. It definitely gives me more confident going into spring training next year.''

Cubs' coming attractions

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

As the Cubs get Wrigley Field decked out for their big October plans - namely, the Ferris Bueller movie night Oct. 1 - a few storylines might be worth watching over the final six games of the season, at St. Louis and at San Diego:

ONE-HIT WONDER: Starlin Castro, 21, needs one hit to become the youngest Cub in history - and sixth youngest in major-league history - to reach 200 hits in a season.

DEAD RED? The Cubs can eliminate the red-hot Cardinals from postseason contention with an unlikely sweep this weekend (depending what wild-card leader Atlanta does against Washington) - or at least deal the Cards a serious blow with two of three.

RETURN OF RAMI: Aramis Ramirez, whose long career with the Cubs appears done in a week, is day-to-day with a quad strain but hopes to return to the lineup for a few more at-bats as a Cub.

SEPEMBER SOLACE? If the Cubs manage a split over the final six games, they'll finish 13-12 in September for back-to-back winning months (16-13 August) for the first time since they had five straight winning months in 2008.

200-200 VISION: Friday's starter, Ryan Dempster, needs 9 1/3 innings in his final two starts to reach 200 innings for the fourth straight season, and a second straight complete game for Matt Garza against San Diego in his final start give the Cubs a slim shot at two 200-inning pitchers for the first time since Dempster and Ted Lilly did it in 2008.

NAME DROPPING: Could be the last chance as Cubs to see - and say goodbyes from afar to - 'Bow, 'Los, Lopy, Hilly, Sori, Rami, Colv, Monty, Q, Riggy, Zues and, uh, Ramon (or, in non-Q speak: John Grabow, Carlos Pena, Rodrigo Lopez, Koyie Hill, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Tyler Colvin, Lou Montanez, Mike Quade, Mark Riggins, Ivan DeJesus and Ramon Ortiz).

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2011 is the previous archive.

November 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.