Okay, I don't actually believe that. But Fuld, little more than a throw-in in the deal for Matt Garza, had easily outperformed Garza through the first couple weeks of the season. The Cubs gave up three top-10 prospects along with catcher Robinson Chirinos in the Garza deal, and then Fuld, who has played more than 19 major league games in a season just once in his career. He was a known commodity in the trade: a platoon outfielder at best with absolutely no power (he's shorter than me at 5' 10").
Sam Fuld is better than Matt Garza
At least, we thought he was a known commodity. Fuld is getting lots of playing time with the Rays, and he's absolutely tearing it up: .344 avg, .379 OBP, the second home run of his career, seven stolen bases (the Cubs have two as a team), and numerous fantastic defensive plays.
Meanwhile, Garza had been downright awful as a Cub. He's been striking guys out at a pretty solid rate, fanning 12, then 8, then 5 in his first three starts, but here's the rub: he's allowed virtually the exact same number of hits: 12, then 8, then 7.
For the most part, both trends held once again in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader. Garza K'd nine Padres and allowed six hits. His pitch count was elevated again, but he posted the Cubs' second straight quality start with six scoreless innings. Zambrano and Garza have combined for 14 innings and zero runs in the series.
While Padres starter Dustin Moseley could do a TV spot about those suffering from a lack of run support (the Padres have scored one run total in his four starts), it's been an issue for Garza as well: Four starts, six runs. Is he going to be "that guy" this year, the one who can't seem to get an ounce of support? It was Randy Wells last year. I remember Matt Clement had the same issue a few years back.
But until the ninth, it looked like one run might just be enough on a cold Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley. But Marmol walked Cameron Maybin in the ninth, who eventually came around to score, and on to extras it went for the second straight game.
Jeff Samardzija walked a tightrope for two innings, putting the go ahead run on third with just one out in both the 10th and 11th. He escaped both jams, though, and set up a dramatic game-winning home run by ...
Reed Johnson??? Come again? Now in fairness, Johnson does have a bit of pop in that bat of his, having hit 55 career home runs. But in a series in which four total runs were scored in two games, with no home runs until Johnson's and the warning track remaining pretty much unused for 20 innings, one would not have thought that Johnson would provide the jolt of offensive electricity the Cubs needed. But that he did, and the Cubs won their second straight in walk-off fashion against the offensively challenged Padres.
Samardzija gets the win, but Garza provided evidence that maybe, just maybe, he's better than Sam Fuld after all.