Garza struggles with all eyes on him

ATLANTA -- With their clip boards and radar guns at the ready, major-league scouts were on hand Thursday at Turner Field to get an updated look at Matt Garza.

It wasn’t his best work. Garza gave up three home runs, lasted just four innings and didn’t exactly look like one of the top pitchers currently available on the trade market.

The poor outing still might not affect his trade value too much. He isn’t injured, he still has a live arm that topped out at 95 mph and has the track record of being a dominating pitcher at times.

Those times aren’t right now, though, as Garza walked three batters for the second consecutive outing. The last time he walked that many was way back on April 23. He also needed 44 pitches to get out of the first inning, 16 of which were to Juan Francisco.

If all the trade talk is bothering Garza he wasn’t about to admit it after the outing.

“It doesn’t affect what I do on the mound,” Garza said. “I still have to grab it and throw it for strikes. I’ve been in trade rumors since my pro career started. It’s not a big deal. It’s more frustrating to let your boys stand around for 50 pitches in an inning.”

The two first-inning home runs Garza allowed might have caused him problems on the scoreboard, but it was the Francisco at-bat that ended up being the bigger blow, whether he wanted to admit it or not.

“The 16-pitch at-bat to Francisco kind of killed the whole outing, really,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It was too bad because once again it looked like he had good stuff but the foul balls and everything just kill him.”

The inability to deliver that knockout pitch has plagued Garza all season.

“It’s been a pattern to get to two strikes and just not being able to put people away sometimes,” Sveum said. “It’s a strange thing but some pitchers are like that. With everything coming into left-handed hitters it’s funny how they can foul balls off a lot.”

The right-hander finished his first half with a 4-7 record and a 4.32 ERA and wasn’t happy about it.

“I started out great, got sick and then it went to a crap show from there,” Garza said. “I pride myself on what I do and I’m not too happy with how I ended this half. Believe me I will come out (angry) and it will be one hell of a second half.”

Who he’s pitching for in that second half remains to be seen, but it seems more than likely that it will be with somebody other than the Cubs.