Matt Garza ruled out for Opening Day and might not rejoin Cubs’ rotation until early May

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As first noted by Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs announced Sunday at their spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona that right-hander Matt Garza has been ruled out for Opening Day and probably won’t be ready until May due to lingering discomfort around his strained left lat muscle.

Garza suffered the lat injury on February 17 while tossing a live batting practice session to a group of minor league hitters and recently aggravated it while trying to restart his throwing program. He will be shut down for at least the next 5-7 days in Cubs camp.

Garza, 29, registered a 3.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 96/32 K/BB ratio across 103 2/3 innings last year before suffering a season-ending right elbow injury. The Cubs are expected to use him as trade bait this summer and will want him as healthy as possible around the July 31 deadline. So look for Garza to be treated with much more precaution moving forward.

Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood will open 2013 in Chicago’s starting rotation.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.