Matt Garza went seven innings and struck out 12 in his first start as a Cub on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
“We played hard for nine and it just didn’t fall our way,” Garza said. “It’s not like we played bad. [The Pirates] found a way. It just fell their way. It happens.”
Manager Mike Quade was impressed with how Garza kept calm when things weren’t going his way and with how Garza didn’t seem to wear down as the game went on.
“They hit him a little bit. He’s something man, he just keeps battling,” Quade said. “One thing I had heard about him, he’ll close it out and he’ll finish up strong for you. And he showed me that today.”
Garza’s 12 strikeouts were the most in a Cubs debut since at least 1915, but Garza, who threw 80 of his 106 pitches for strikes, claimed he wasn’t trying for Ks.
“I just tried to get outs,” Garza said. “Those 12 singles were annoying, but I just kept telling myself, ‘Just get to the next pitch and keep attacking.’”
Quade was pleased with Garza’s ability to command the strike zone and not issue any walks.
“Obviously you give up  hits, [if] you scatter two or three walks in there, the result is a little different,” Quade said.
Garza shot down the notion that he had any worries after his so-so spring.
“Not one [bad thought],” Garza said. “I told you guys in spring I felt great mentally and physically. All it was, was trying to get comfortable. This is when it counts.”
The previous mark for most strikeouts by pitcher in their Cubs debut was 10, which was accomplished four times, most recently by Thomas Diamond on Aug. 3, 2010 vs. Milwaukee.
Despite getting a big hit to tie up the game in yesterday’s victory, Alfonso Soriano continued to get dogged by boos from the fans. That is until his home run to lead off the sixth inning gave the Cubs a short-lived lead.
“It makes me feel better,” Soriano said. “I feel good and I’m working hard to have some good numbers to help the team win.”