Matt Garza dominant in Cubs’ victory over Phillies
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 29, 2012 9:12PM
Right-hander Matt Garza allowed one hit in seven dominant innings in the Cubs’ 5-1 victory Sunday against the Phillies. | Getty Images
Updated: June 1, 2012 8:16AM
PHILADELPHIA — These are the kinds of starts that feed the visions. And the beast.
Visions of right-hander Matt Garza as one of the elite pitchers in the game. Visions of Game 1 starts in the playoffs.
The beast is the nine-figure contract the Cubs or some other team will wind up paying if he keeps this up.
Neither side will talk about negotiations on a possible contract extension for Garza, who had no-hit stuff in the Cubs’ 5-1 victory Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies. But how those negotiations play out will say more about what the front office thinks the Cubs’ timeline is for contending again than anything Garza (2-1, 2.67 ERA) can do on the mound — unless he pitches like he did Sunday every time out.
Garza said he’s not making predictions about any timeline, but he did say he expects to be with the Cubs when that turnaround gains traction.
‘‘I have every expectation to be part of that,’’ said Garza, who is making $9.5 million this season and has one year of arbitration eligibility left. ‘‘I’d like for it to happen this year. . . . But I’m just trying to get to the next five days.’’
As for that no-hit stuff, the only hit Garza allowed Sunday was a pop-up that fell among three guys in shallow right-center leading off the first inning. After that, he retired 18 consecutive batters and finished a seven-inning start with 10 strikeouts.
‘‘Obviously, he’s done it throughout his career,’’ manager Dale Sveum said of Garza’s ability to harness a boisterous, fidgety personality when he’s pitching, ‘‘and he’s been one of the better pitchers in baseball.’’
You’ll know how fast the front office thinks it can win when you see what it’s able to do with Garza’s contract — or not do. Lock him up with a long-term deal — something that got more complicated when the San Francisco Giants signed right-hander Matt Cain to a five-year, $112.5 million extension a few weeks ago — and the push is on.
Garza knows firsthand what that’s like, having been part of the rebirth of the Tampa Bay Rays that included a World Series start in Philadelphia in 2008.
‘‘It can be a lot of fun,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve got a lot of moving pieces, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. A lot of youth, a lot of growing up, and we’re going to have fun doing it.’’
NOTES: Outfielder Tony Campana has been an igniter since joining a run-starved lineup. He has reached base five times — only twice getting the ball out of the infield — in the first three games of the series against the Phillies and has scored each time.
‘‘Tony’s been an amazing spark to our lineup,’’ outfielder Joe Mather said.
† Speaking of Mather, his fourth-inning home run Sunday was the first for a Cubs outfielder this season and just the major-league-low eighth for the team.