Veteran hopes surprise relief appearance rights ship
By Brandon Curry
MILWAUKEE -- Matt Garza wasn't scheduled to pitch in the Brewers' series finale on Sunday with the D-backs. In fact, he was set to start on Monday in St. Louis. He pitched on Sunday anyway.
The Brewers needed the right-hander's services in their 7-6, 17-inning marathon win over the D-backs that ended with Garza's battery mate, catcher Martin Maldonado, hitting his first career walk-off home run.
The game was the longest ever played at Miller Park by time (5:49), while the Brewers used nine pitchers total, tying a franchise record, and deployed 22 players total.
Garza entered the game in the 13th inning and shut down Arizona's hitters from there. He allowed just three hits on his way to his third victory of the season. It was his fourth career relief appearance and first with the Brewers.
"There's no different mindset," Garza said. You have to attack either way. You don't ever save bullets. You just go."
Sunday was Garza's original day to make a start. However, after starter Wily Peralta was placed on the disabled list and rookie Tyler Wagner was called up from Double-A-Biloxi, Garza was shifted to Monday, while Wagner was slotted to pitch against the D-backs. Brewers manager Craig Counsell also wanted to give Garza an extra day of rest because of his recent struggles.
Garza entered Sunday having allowed 19 earned runs and 23 hits over his last 14 2/3 innings (three starts), including a five-inning, five-run loss to the Giants on Tuesday. But his relief performance just might get the veteran back on the right track.
"You've got to be open to what can get you going," Counsell said. "When we told him it was a possibility [to pitch in relief], he was ready to go."
"I got back to being me," Garza said. "Win or lose, the way I felt out there, I was pumped."
Garza's been pegged as the team's No. 2 starter this season, and to put it simply, he hasn't lived up to those expectations. His ERA had ballooned to 6.00 before Sunday's game.
Nevertheless, Garza's work in relief helped the Brewers snap a seven-game losing streak and what would've been their second consecutive series being swept. He hopes this win can not only get him going, but also the team as a whole.
"I hope it lets guys see that it doesn't matter what day it is, you do what you have to do to get the 'W'," Garza said. "All we have to do is keep going and fighting. Whoever needs to be that hero, just step up that day."
Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.