Garza rusty, but three Brewers homer vs. Rox
$50 million free-agent pickup gets in work as Crew's offense shows off power
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Two opposing pitchers expected to lead their respective rotations had rough Cactus League debuts Sunday afternoon. The Brewers' Matt Garza, who signed for four years and $50 million, and the Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa, who tied a career high with 16 wins last year, each gave up four runs and did not stay in the game as long as anticipated.
Long after both starters exited, Hector Gomez homered to left field in the eighth inning off Rockies reliever Scott Oberg to give the Brewers a 6-5 victory at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in front of 9,227, who otherwise saw little offense against the teams' relievers.
It was the first Cactus League homer of the season for Gomez, who played two Major League games with the Rockies in 2011.
Garza said he was so excited he did not sleep Saturday night. With Garza's fastballs missing their spots and his changeups not fooling anyone, the first three Rockies reached, with No. 3 hitter Carlos Gonzalez driving in a run. Michael McKenry doubled in two runs, Brandon Barnes added an RBI single and Garza was gone after completing the inning.
"Mentally, it was more of a [workout]," Garza said. "Your body, you've been training enough to do this, but mentally, you have to be able to control the emotions. I worked all offseason to be able to come out and play, and now you get to play and you're just excited. Everything was just fast and flying for me.
"It's one of those things where if you're not throwing your only off-speed pitch good, then -- tee-time."
One of De La Rosa's spring projects is to pitch inside more. He has succeeded on the outer part of the plate. Last year, working outside helped him to a 16-6 record and 3.49 ERA. But a frequent opponent is the Dodgers, who tend to look outside and have saddled him with a career 2-8 record and 5.99 ERA against them.
But De La Rosa went inside against the first Brewers batter, Rickie Weeks, who parked a homer to left field on the game's third pitch. De la Rosa went slightly longer than Garza, 1 2/3 innings, and gave up four runs on four hits with two walks, a wild pitch and an error on a pickoff move.
It was not De La Rosa's first forgettable day of early Spring Training -- among others, he had an awful outing against the Royals last spring.
"I've heard that, like, 10 times today," De La Rosa said with a smile.
"I was bad today," he said. "Everything was up. When I tried to come in, it went to the middle. When I tried to throw away, it went more away. I have to fix it."
Gonzalez had two hits, including a double. The Brewers' Weeks, Lyle Overbay and Irving Falu were starting lineup members who had two hits apiece. Khris Davis homered off Rockies reliever Manny Corpas to open the fifth.
Up next for Brewers: Marco Estrada on Monday will make his second spring start as the Brewers and Cubs make a bit of baseball history. According to Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke, the game at Maryvale Baseball Park would be one of several featuring the first use of Major League Baseball's expanded instant replay system, which allows managers the right to challenge at least one call. Roenicke was educated on the system last week and had since discussed with his staff how best to handle the changes. Monday will be Roenicke's first opportunity to put his strategy into action, and he said the Brewers would play two more games with replay during Spring Training. The game, starting at 2:05 p.m. CT, can be both seen on MLB.TV and listened to via Gameday Audio.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.