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August 17, 2011

Orioles find positives in Matusz's outing

If you looked solely at Brian Matusz's line in the Orioles' 8-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics last night - six earned runs on eight hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings - you'd conclude that the young lefty had another forgettable outing in his return to the big leagues.

However, the guys Matusz shares a clubhouse with would disagree with that conclusion.

“I saw a lot of positives,” said catcher Matt Wieters. “I thought he was probably a few good changeups away from no runs given up in that game instead of what happened. His fastball had good life, and his breaking stuff was back to being sharp. There are still a lot of positives that he could take out of that game.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter agreed, saying, "I thought he deserved a lot better than what the line may read. You look at some of the hits that fell in on him. I thought he held his stuff well, too. He looked pretty strong physically which was good to see. He just seemed strong mentally and physically tonight. That was fun to watch. If he pitches more like that, he’ll come out ahead in a lot of those games.”

All-in-all, it was an uneven outing for Matusz, who was making his first big-league start since June 30.

First the positives: Matusz's velocity was up a little bit - his fastball mostly sat between 88 and 90 miles per hour - but more important than that, Wieters said that it had some life to it that was lacking earlier this season. Matusz also threw some really good curveballs, and struck out a season-high five. And finally, Matusz looked much stronger physically. He threw 109 pitches, 19 more than any other of his big league outings this season, and was one pitch away from getting through the seventh inning.

Now the negatives: Matusz's command was an issue as he walked three of the first eight batters that he faced. His changeup, which is a serious weapon when it's right, wasn't sharp at all and the one that he threw to Josh Willingham, who destroyed it into the left-field seats, might as well have been put on a tee. Also disappointing was how he got two quick outs in a one-run game in the seventh inning, but couldn't finish the inning off. He allowed back-to-back singles. Troy Patton then relieved him and surrendered a two-run double to Coco Crisp and an RBI single to Hideki Matsui.

Instead of the Orioles trailing 4-3 heading into the top of the eighth, they were behind 7-3. Instead of Matusz having allowed only four earned runs and six hitts over 6 2/3 innings, he had allowed six earned and eight hits.

The end result of his outing could have been much better, but the Orioles have also seen their young lefty fare significantly worse. All-in-all, they said that they were encouraged by his performance as was Matusz.

"I’ve made a lot of strides, had a good feel for all my pitches today, just being able to locate a little bit better,” Matusz said . “You got to build off every outing. It’s definitely exciting coming back, the first outing out here in a while, lot of nerves coming out from the get go. But, pretty happy about being able to go deep.”

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 7:00 AM | | Comments (20)


Whether it's 4 runs over 6 2/3 or 6 over 6 2/3, he didn't pitch well enough and should be ashamed of himself for coming into camp not in shape. He's definitely not the same pitcher. He should be ashamed of himself for not being ready for the season and better work harder next year to be ready.

He looked a lot better than he has.... still think they rushed him up but he did some good things but the end result was still not what we want...

Talking about tonights game I think simon should not be starting. You talked about it last week but he is out of gas. He needs to be moved to the bullpen, I believe.

And his mommy thinks he's a nice boy. This is getting silly.

He had 3 walks total, all of them to the first 8 batters he faced. That could just be nerves. You could point to that as a positive: "After walking three of the first eight batters he faced, he settled down and didn't walk anyone for 5-plus innings."

Yes, I'm an optimist. Or I'm deluded, which is probably the same thing when it comes to this team.

Troy Patton (Buck: this guy is not very good) ... was a big help to Matusz in relief -- if that's what you call it.

I doubt his teammates would publicly criticize him and I am certain he appreciates the moral support but the O's need to start winning now. Not three years from now.Why is the O's bullpen essentially ineffective ?

It maybe a lot of positives for the club house and the management; however the results were the same and it seems he cannot past the 7th inning. Oh, that right, no major league pitcher can put in nine (9) complete innings

I know you are not a columnist, however I am so sick of everytime we get our butts kicked that we excuse it almost immediately. 6 earned runs in 6.2 innings. Really something to get excited about because it wasn't 10 runs or it didnt happen in three innings. Is that the new excitement? The Orioles have gotten so good that they have brainwashed the fans and community to think it is ok to lose and lose a lot as long as each game produces "positives" like we only lost by one, or our picther went into the seventh even if he got torched for 6 or 8 runs, or Reynolds hit a ball 600 feet nevermind that it was a solo blast in a 7-1 game that he had previously struck out three times. When is anybody going to have the guts to call out this pathetic Clipperesq orginization and say enough is enough!!

He also pitched against one of the worst hitting teams in baseball in one of the largest parks in baseball. But hey, why rain on the parade right now. Let's see what happens when he pitches against the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, or Rays, who populate a large part of the remaining schedule. Until then I'll withhold judgement and take ken's approach that the glass is half full with Matusz.

OK. Only a semi-disaster.

Positives? Seriously?

Even if Matusz had allowed "only" four earned runs and six hits over 6 2/3 innings, that calculates to a 5.45 ERA, Jeff.

But that's what we've come to as Orioles fans though, right? We look for the positives in an 8-4 loss to a bad team.

Hey, maybe that should be the new slogan. "Things aren't that bad! You have to look for the positives!"

Things are that Bad! The Orioles need more veterans in the rotation. Go get Capuano, Andy! Matusz is not the answer for this year. Tillman who’s looked good and terrible this year isn’t the answer either. Simon has been up and down as well, it should be interesting today to see how he does. Simon has the stuff to shut down the A’s, I am unsure of what kind of odds I would give to do just that, how about 7 to 1. Jakubauskas has been solid in the pen and Bergy should stay there and develop as a set up man. Patton was never in Buck’s favor and fell even further with last night’s stumble. I can deal with Reyes and Hunter for the rest of the year. As long as Jo-Jo keeps the home runs at a minimum, he should be an innings eater for the rest of the year. The Orioles really need to get a solid pitching coach in here. Adair has done a good job considering, still he needs to go back to the bullpen and the O’s need to add someone who brings stability to a very unstable situation! Lastly, I am glad Tatum is getting the start today good for him and I agree that he’s been very solid this year as a back-up. I do think the O’s need to upgrade here. Unfortunately, Tatum is just a back-up. I think the O’s need someone with more potential. Oh one other thing Jim Johnson can be a solid set-up man, if not elite. If the Orioles convert him to a starter, he will be a Guthrie type of pitcher. Lights out for several innings, then have a brain cramp and will bring things to a screeching halt. That’s not good. Johnson should either remain as a set-up man or try to become the closer. Becoming a starter won’t work. Odds on working has a morning line of 99 - 1, that’s not good!

When it is stressed that the Orioles' player development system is horribly flawed, this is an example as clear as day. Matusz, in an organization who knows anything at all about handling talented youth and putting them on track to be at their best in the bigs, would be on a cruise of mostly AAA this year after AA and AAA in 2010. I may be off by a bit, but my point is that a need to win and showcase or promote talent at the big league level not only shows a void, but it causes a rush upwards of talent that is in one or more ways unprepared. If Matusz showed up at spring training and wasn't in shape than he shouldn't have been rewarded with a big league rotation spot. If that's the case or not, I don't know but on a team driven by competition among it's players he'd probably be more inclined to stay in shape year round. But the point is that this happens to too many of the organization's youth- some form of injury, lack of development or simply underperformance. Matusz may show signs of being big league good, but he's a year ahead of Britton minus the injury and Britton has showed a tendency to underperform against major and minor league lineups. Does Britton have to simply be healthy in March to get a rotation spot in 2012? Joe Jordan is responsible for too many busts and Matusz is one that hurts a bit more than previous ones. It really is nothing personal, but this guy does a bad job simply put

Arrietta, Britton, and Guthrie are all hurt and Matuz is pitching a little bit better. I see alot of positives on this team too. God, I can't wait for the Bundy boys to come up and show this team what a work ethic is all about.

Only in Baltimore will an outing as awfull as his get a positive twist.
Chicken shi- is chicken shi- no matter how much mayo & Old Bay you add!
Send him back down & keep him there.

I see positive thing too. I'm only 6 numbers away from winning the lottery. Things are looking up. Thank you O's for making me look at things in a positive light. What would I do without you?!

Matusz is DONE!!!! He had surgery on his oblique, which you use to pitch, and he lost a lot of velocity as a result, which will be too difficult to get back. He is toast. Period.

Jeff, This is an amazing piece. I have to ask you though, do u ever feel like calling BS on these guys?

Writers already has a losers mentality. My goodness, this is suppose to be major league baseball Jeff. This isn't A, AA or AAA. This is actually the kind of story one would expect to read after a pitcher struggles for the Iron Birds.

And it's not Weiters fault. All of these guys are learning that losing is ok. Does anyone really believe that's an exaggeration?

Amazing post above by Dimo, Gil, Nt Brooks and others. The fans are speaking Jeff. I mean they really are. It had to pain you to even type the words you inserted above. What a difficult job it must be at times.

I know as a journalist, you try to remain emotionless. We as fans however, don't have that luxury. We're hurting Jeff. Yes, it's only baseball, thus it's not the end of the world. But as sports fans Jeff, and as fans who are trying to hold on to what has become a disgraceful organization, it would be great if someone truly called the team out when they show such a lack of understanding what the fans are going through.

We were supposed to be better, at least a 500 team two years ago Jeff. But here we are in 2011, having to watch one of the worst teams on franchise history.

Don't take it personal, because you are a quality writer Jeff. All we're asking is for someone to say BS once in a while to what this organization is attempting to shove down our throats.

Jeff Z's reply: If you read my game story, it wasn't as rosy of a picture. I pointed out his issues last night and whiile the players said what they said, I didn't really fixate on those comments. If I recall correctly, I used te term "slight progress." I'm comfortable with how I react when a player says something delusional. Simon today attributed some of his problems to to bad luck. I countered with his numbers over the lastthree starts. Those say more than I could ever with words.

Fair enough Jeff. Thanks!

So few players improve in Baltimore. Most regress. Look at Matt Albers in Boston this year v. his two prior years in Baltimore. How to explain cutting your ERA by 40 percent and reducing your BAA % by like 50 points? Does anybody get better in Baltimore? Adam Jones, maybe Guthrie (after he was pulled from Cleveland scrap heap). But what about Weiters regressing at the plate every year, Markakis becoming a singles hitter, Reimold, Matusz, Tillman, Arrietta, Britton, Gregg, Accardo, Bergesen, Berken all getting worse with each month? Nobody seems to be learning anything. This system is so dysfunctional, there is no fix. Except Angelos sells the team to somebody who has his money, but who cares about winning and doing things the right way.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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