Blue Jays 9, Orioles 2: Matusz & Gregg combine for disaster

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 15: Kevin Gregg of the Baltimore Orioles reacts to giving up a third run during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre April 15, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Both teams wore the number 42 in honour of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

The Orioles went into today's game looking for a sweep, but even before the first pitch was thrown the odds were against them. First there is their recent history of stinking it up in Toronto, then there was the Sunday lineup that saw Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, and Nolan Reimold being given the day off. And to top it all off, Brian Matusz was making the start.

As you all know, Brian Matusz was knocked around pretty good by the New York Yankees in his first start of the season. The Blue Jays aren't as good as the Yankees, but they're still pretty good. So the challenge would be for Matusz to rebound against his Toronto so that he can justify his place in the rotation when Tsuyoshi Wada returns to the team. Oh, and also to help the O's get the win of course.

Matusz was not great. He got through the first part of the game without much damage inflicted to the scoreboard, but he wasn't sharp. His command was off and much of his success was thanks to three double plays (one started with a hard liner off the bat of Colby Rasmus in which Chris Davis was standing in the right place at the right time) and he got through five innings with just one run allowed, a homer to Brett Lawrie in the fourth.

Some might say that Matusz battled through the first half of the game ("battle" being code for not that great but keeping the team in the game), so let's go with that. And as Matusz battled, his offense didn't do much to help him out. That's an offense that included Endy Chavez in left field, Robert Andino at shortstop, Ryan Flaherty making his first major-league start at second base, and Ronny Paulino at catcher.

This modified lineup got out to a one-run lead in the second inning. Wilson Betemit reached on an error by the pitcher, Kyle Drabek, then moved to third on a double from Chris Davis. A Paulino ground out brought Betemit in but the inning ended with a Flaherty strikeout. Flaherty's first start, incidentally, will probably be his last for awhile. He struck out in all three of his at bats today and was completely over matched by major-league pitching.

After the Lawrie home run in the fourth, the score remained tied until the top of the sixth inning when Adam Jones launched a massive home run to left field. That very briefly put the O's up 2-1, but the bottom of the sixth brought that lead to a quick end.

Oh, the bottom of the sixth. What a giant mess. It started with Matusz and ended with Kevin Gregg. First, Matusz. A lead off double by Jose Bautista put a runner on for Edwin Encarnacion, who homered to give the Jays a 3-2 lead. Matusz was able to get two outs, but left with two runners on and two outs in favor of Gregg. All Gregg needed to do was retire all-around-bad-hitter Jeff Mathis, the #9 batter in the Jays lineup.

He didn't do it.

There was talk in the latest Camden Cast where Mark and Andrew discussed how Gregg was given unfair blame for his role in the loss to the Yankees last week, so let me go on record here and say that today's loss doesn't lie squarely on his shoulders. Of course it doesn't. Matusz had a bad day, the offense scored only two runs, Wilson Betemit was lousy at third base, etc. But that doesn't mean that Gregg isn't awful, because he is. He's terrible. Writing a narrative of Gregg's outing couldn't possibly do justice to what happened, so please just read over the game log from MLB.com (if you can stomach it):

  • Pitcher Change: Kevin Gregg replaces Brian Matusz.
  • 7.Jeff Mathis singles on a ground ball to left fielder Endy Chavez. Ben Francisco scores. Rajai Davis to 3rd. Jeff Mathis to 2nd on the throw.
  • 8.Yunel Escobar doubles (2) on a line drive to right fielder Nick Markakis. Rajai Davis scores. Jeff Mathis scores.
  • 9.Kelly Johnson doubles (1) on a fly ball to center fielder Adam Jones. Yunel Escobar scores.
  • Coaching visit to mound.
  • 10.Jose Bautista walks.
  • 11.Edwin Encarnacion walks. Kelly Johnson to 3rd. Jose Bautista to 2nd.
  • 12.Brett Lawrie hit by pitch. Kelly Johnson scores. Jose Bautista to 3rd. Edwin Encarnacion to 2nd.
  • 13.Ben Francisco flies out softly to right fielder Nick Markakis.

After that inning mercifully came to an end, the Orioles continued their pathetic display off offense (although Chris Davis walked, which is a bit of a miracle) and Troy Patton pitched the final two innings, give up one more run.

Overall this wasn't a bad series by the Orioles, but this last game certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Starting tomorrow the Orioles travel to Chicago for four games with the White Sox.

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