Two factors are responsible for tonight's 6-3 loss to the OC Angels, Brian Matusz and the defense. Matusz pitched another poor game but not necessarily a horrible game once you factor in the defense. In the bottom of the first, he gave up two runs via three doubles by Howie Kendrick, Torii Hunter, and Mark Dumbo. He gave up another run in the 2nd, escaped a base loaded jam in the 4th thanks to a double play, and then he was knocked out of the game in the 6th. Buck Showalter pulled Matusz after he loaded the bases with Howie Kendrick coming up to bat. Darren O'Day Lewis gave up a bases clearing hit and that was the ballgame. Matusz left the game with 5 innings pitched and 4 earned runs. On the bright side, Nolan Reimold produced a strong game with 3 hits including a home run.What happened to Matusz? His velocity looked fine. When he first came up, his fastball velocity sat in the low 90s before dropping off last year. This year, his fastball velocity is back but the results have been poor. In each of his three starts, his fastball velocity has averaged 90 mph with him occasionally reaching 92. Unfortunately, his strikes outs are down and his walks are up this year. Tonight, he managed 6 Ks with 3 BB, but seasonal totals are a rather uninspiring 11 Ks, 11 BBs. Matusz is simply giving up more hits and too many walks.
As we can see from the pitch velocity chart by pitch number, Matusz started off with a lot of fastballs and he ended up giving up a couple of runs. He then started to mix it up which seemed to help.
Around the 60 pitch mark, he started to throw a lot more off-speed stuff with success before mixing it back up again. In looking at his strike zone plot from tonight's game, Matusz was moving the ball all around the strike zone and keeping the ball down. Several of the "in-play balls for hits" were in the lower left hand corner and then he left some pitches up.
And then there was the defense. To be fair to Matusz, his poor outing wasn't entirely his fault. The defense recorded three errors allowing two unearned runs. When Buck Showalter took over in 2010, the team's excellent defense played a significant part in the team's success. According to David Schoenfield, the team's defensive efficiency (the numbers of balls in play turned into outs) went from 27th to 1st under Showalter. Since then the team's defense has been poor. The team's UZR is a whopping -50.8 since 2010, good enough for next to last in the majors. And the team's DRS score isn't so good either (-21). Tonight, Robert Andino made a poor throw in the 2nd inning to pull Chris Davis off the bag. Then in the 4th, he made a semi-bad throw that Davis should have scooped up that resulted in another error. The errors continued in the 6th when Adam Jones threw the ball to the cut off man but the ball ended up skipping past him allowing another runner to score when he should been stranded at 3rd. Andino obviously had a bad game and the error in the 6th was sloppy. Mark Reynolds thankfully DHed tonight or else the comedy the errors might have been worse. Lately, the act of catching the ball has been a difficult chore for Chris Davis which is a wee bit problematic for a 1B. Jake Arrieta will take the mound Saturday night as the O's set aside this brief hiccup on their march toward 90 wins. As long as Jake doesn't allow the ball to enter the field of play, he'll be fine.