Matusz shines in rehab outing; Izturis the bullpen coach; Jones hustles; Guthrie impresses
About 40 minutes away from where the Orioles snapped a four-game losing streak with a much-needed 8-3 victory over the Washington Nationals today, Brian Matusz pitched six scoreless innings for Double-A Bowie against Erie. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out one. In two rehab stats -- his first was for Single-A Frederick -- Matusz has allowed one run on five hits and three walks while striking out three over 10 innings.
Matusz, the 24-year-old lefty who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues this season with a strained left intercostal muscle, was restricted today to either six innings or 75 pitches. He threw 70 pitches to get 18 outs, leaving the Orioles to decide whether they want to promote him and have him make his next start with them Thursday or Friday, or make one more rehab start.
“I’m not leaning either way,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who will undoubtedly consult with pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair before deciding. Adair was at Prince George’s County Stadium today to watch Matusz (right). “Let’s see what happens.”
Adair's being with the Baysox prompted an unusual moment at Camden Yards, where injured infielder Cesar Izturis was serving as the Orioles’ bullpen coach in his absence.
That created a communication mishap before the start of the top of the seventh inning, which led to Jim Johnson running out from the bullpen while Jeremy Guthrie was on the mound readying to start his warm-up tosses. Johnson ran about halfway in before heading back to the bullpen. Guthrie threw a scoreless seventh, then Johnson did come into the game in the eighth and put up a zero.
“That was the Izturis factor,” Showalter joked. “He was helping us in the bullpen today because Rick left about halfway through and went to Bowie for Matusz. A little miscommunication. He was warming up in case Jeremy couldn’t get out of that inning before. I think he was at 98, 99 [pitches]. We’ll work on that. It’s funny now, right? I’m glad I didn’t see it.”
Izturis also laughed off the miscommunication and said the only thing that mattered was that the Orioles got a "W" in his debut as bullpen coach.
The Orioles also made one other coaching change for the day, with bench coach Willie Randolph and third base coach John Russell switching roles. Russell had a cortisone injection in his knee and wasn’t able to take his spot at third.
I thought Randolph, who coached third for Showalter in New York and earned the nickname “Wave 'Em Home Willie,” made a great send of Adam Jones in the third inning on Nick Markakis’ single to left that Laynce Nix bobbled. But I also give credit to Jones for running hard the whole way, picking up his base coach and not just assuming he’d get stopped at third.
Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold, who hit a game-tying two-run homer earlier in the inning, said Jones’ hustle fired up the team.
“You never assume anything,” Showalter said. “You’re trying to get across to your base runners that you run until you’re stopped and don’t be the third base coach. You run, because you really can’t see the things going on behind you. You need to give the third base coach a chance to make a good decision. I think most times you see something that looks like it’s not a good decision because the base runner assumes that he’s not going."
And finally, the Nationals came away impressed with Guthrie, who allowed two unearned runs in seven solid innings to get his first win since Opening Day.
“A pitcher like that, when he starts to get in a rhythm, he’s definitely tough to beat,” said Nationals third baseman and former Oriole Jerry Hairston Jr. “He’s been around for a while now, and he’s got good stuff. I think as far as velocitywise, that’s probably as good as I’ve seen him throw.”
Said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman: “We didn’t do much against him. We got two unearned runs there, but he’s tough. He’s done this to us before.”
Matusz photo courtesy of the Bowie Baysox