Brian Matusz pitched the best game of his major league career today and the offense scored 5 runs with a little help from the Indians defense, leading to a 5-2 O's win and a series split.
Between starts, Matusz and pitching coach Rick Kranitz reviewed video of him pitching at Bowie and noticed several mechanical changes, especially his arm angle. Matusz attributes those mechanical issues and the ensuing ineffectiveness to his nerves and the pressure he put on himself to do too much upon his promotion. Whatever he changed, it worked. Matusz, who hasn't pitched more than 5.2 innings this year, today got through 7 innings with 8 strikeouts, 1 (garbage) walk, 4 hits, and 1 run.
Matusz retired the first 11 hitters easily until, with two outs in the 4th inning, Balkin' Bob Davidson struck again. After a pitch to Asdrubal Cabrera, Brian Matusz went to his mouth and quickly licked his finger. It looked almost involuntary, but Bob Davidson never misses a chance to screw someone over. Instead of issuing a warning, Davidson called him on it, which added a ball to Cabrera's 3-1 count and sent him to first base as Matusz's first (and only) walk of the day. Matusz didn't rattle (although he looked totally confused) and struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning.
Matusz got into a bit of trouble in the 6th inning when Grady Sizemore hit a ball deep to center. It looked catchable for Adam Jones and actually hit his glove, but he didn't get the out and Sizemore ended up on third with a triple. The next batter, Jamey Carroll, singled him in, but Matusz didn't allow any more damage. He finished the inning with 91 pitches and I thought he was done for the day. Happily I was wrong as Matusz returned for the 7th inning to retire the Indians 1-2-3 on just 5 pitches.
Four of the five Oriole runs came in the third inning on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 errors. Ty Wigginton led off with a single to right and moved to 2nd when Choo let the ball get behind him. After Cesar Izturis struck out, Brian Roberts hit a ground ball to 3B Jamey Carroll. Carroll threw wildly so that he not only didn't get Roberts at first, but Wiggy scored all the way from 2nd. Roberts was credited with an infield single and was still on first when the hot hitting Felix Pie hit his 7th HR of the year to left-center field to put the O's up 3-0. Masterson, rattled by the awesomeness that is Felix, then walked Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold, with Jones scoring on a double by Luke Scott. The Orioles 5th run came in the 6th on a sacrifice fly from Brian Roberts.
Danys Baez came on to pitch the 8th inning with a 4 run lead and, naturally, got into trouble. He retired the first two batters but then allowed the Indians second run of the game on three consecutive singles before Jhonny Peralta grounded out to end the inning. Jim Johnson pitched an easy 9th to secure the win.
O's win! Tomorrow the Yankees come to town with Andy Pettitte facing Jeremy Guthrie in game 1.