Two reasons for Cubs fans to await next year
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com September 21, 2011 9:16PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 4:49PM
For all the uncertainty Cub fans face as they try to predict the 2012 season, their final in-person glimpse at 2011 offered at least a two-man glimmer to keep in mind through the winter.
Kid shortstop Starlin Castro got two of the needed three hits for 200 in his first two at-bats Wednesday, then built the drama to a standing ovation in his final plate appearance in the eighth — before taking a 3-0 cookie and eventually drawing a walk.
“I was excited to try to do it here,’’ Castro said. “I’m ready for Friday [in St. Louis].’’
Meanwhile, hard-luck starter Matt Garza finally was able to finish what he started — with a lead — and deliver a complete-game, 7-1 victory over division-leading Milwaukee.
“I loved it,’’ said Garza (9-10), whose pitch count started to creep precariously close to hook time when DJ LeMahieu dropped a two-out popup in the ninth. “I saw [James] Russell get up [in the bullpen] and it [angered] me. There was no way I was coming out of this thing.”
Sitting on 199 hits and facing a 3-0 count in the eighth, Castro said he was tempted to swing at the middle-of-the-plate pitch, even though he was ordered to take all the way with the big lead.
“If I swing and miss it, maybe the next pitch is in my back,” he said.
With a runner at first and one out, Garza wasn’t pleased when manager Mike Quade told him not to swing the bat as the manager tried to assure the on-deck Castro another chance by staying out of the double play.
“You’ve got to explain things a few times to him,’’ Quade said with a laugh.
Garza instead grounded to the pitcher, but the runner moved up.
“It is what it is,” Garza said. “I’m trying to hit, too. I want 20 wins. I want 200 innings. I want 200-plus strikeouts. I was in my mode, so I’m going to go out there and compete. I’m not just going to give up …
“I know he has six more games to get it, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to do it. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
It took until the final game of the home schedule — and enduring consistent and substantial no-show totals throughout the season — but the Cubs drew 3 million in paid attendance for the eighth consecutive season. The 3,017,966 total marked the third straight season of decline.
◆ Quote of the day: “I’d like his arm back” — Quade on whether he’d like Carlos Zambrano back with the team should he return as manager next season.