MILWAUKEE — Matt Garza had pitched in Miller Park four times before Friday’s exhibition game against Kansas City, but this time was a bit different.
Making his debut in front of the home fans with the Brewers, Garza was just anxious to pitch somewhere other than in Arizona.
"I just had to get familiar coming out from the other side," Garza said. "I was looking around all day for the training room, the weight room, the food room, the bathrooms. It was kind of a scavenger hunt."
Coming off his best outing of the spring, Garza wasn’t as sharp in Kansas City’s 5-4 victory over the Brewers. The right-hander needed 73 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs while walking two.
"I was a little off," Garza said. "I really couldn’t figure out what was going on timing wise. I threw too many pitches.
"Last time I felt great. I think it was more just timing. It’s not a quick fix but more of an easier fix than anything else mechanical. Other than that, I feel ready to roll."
Signed to a four-year, $50 million contract this winter, Garza finished the exhibition with a 8.80 ERA in five starts. Opposing batters hit .403 against him and his WHIP was 2.35.
But Garza repeatedly has stated the inflated spring ERA was nothing to worry about, and he’ll be ready to go when he makes his first start of the regular season. Garza threw the ball well last Sunday against the Reds, allowing just one run on four hits with six strikeouts over six innings.
"Tonight wasn’t so good," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was a little out of his delivery tonight. He threw some really good pitches, and they fouled off some really good pitches. This is a really good offensive team. That may have had something to do with it."
Garza needed 26 pitches to get out of the first inning, as he was aided by a double play to escape without allowing a run. A leadoff double eventually led to a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but Garza worked a quick, scoreless third.
He got in trouble in the fourth inning after a single and two walks brought home Kansas City’s second run of the day, while an Aramis Ramirez error loaded the bases with nobody out. Garza got Pedro Ciricao to weakly fly out to first and finished his day by inducing a slow comebacker from Norichika Aoki.
"I was pushing for five innings, but I didn’t get there," Garza said. "With 75 pitches you should get five innings. My execution wasn’t on point, but I battled and tried to grind my way through it."
Garza will make his season debut Wednesday afternoon against Atlanta. There was some debate earlier in spring training as to when Garza would make his Brewers debut, as Roenicke considered starting him Friday at Fenway Park against Boston.
It didn’t matter to him either way.
"Whenever my name is on that board, I’ll be ready," Garza said."That’s really my concern. Game three on Wednesday is fine with me, game four was fine with me. Like I told Ron, it doesn’t matter as long as you write my name up there every five days."