I made a mistake earlier this week; for a short period I almost forgot that this was spring training. I suppose I was a bit critical of Brian Matusz in his first start, which aired on MASN. Certainly Matusz’s command wasn’t what one would have hoped, however in his first spring start it wasn’t too shabby. I only realized this after re-watching the two innings that Matusz pitched in the game. (Yeah, that’s right…I DVR’d a spring training game so that I could go back later and watch mechanics.) One thing that was excellent was Matusz’s velocity, which topped at 91-93. I suppose that command is something that can be worked on throughout the Grapefruit League season, while velocity of course was one of Matusz’s biggest problems in 2011.
Perhaps all Matusz needed was the blonde sunshine shining down while he pitched, because he blanked the Phillies for three innings today in Clearwater. Matusz threw 53 pitches over four innings, struck out four and allowing three hits. Given that the Phils are such a high-powered team, this is really a great sign for the Birds. Perhaps more importantly than the overall line score, Matusz improved leaps and bounds from his first game.
2012 is a season that in my opinion hinges largely on pitching for the Orioles. Ironically, this year the Birds came into camp touting the “depth” of their pitching; it looks like these guys aren’t going to make it easy on Buck Showalter to figure out who’s in the rotation and who’s not. With this said, I’m not trying to make the same mistake again in that I don’t want to forget that this is still spring training. We shouldn’t get overly excited about one start for Matusz or anyone else. However it is worth noting that progress appears to have been made, albeit it slightly. The O’s currently lead the Phillies 1-0 in the last of the eighth. Chris Davis hit a solo HR in the fourth, the Orioles’ first in spring training 2012.
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Update 3:30 PM – That 1-0 score held up for the entire game, as the O’s defeated the Philadelphia Phillies. As I said above, Chris Davis hit the Orioles’ first 2012 Florida Grapefruit League HR in the fourth inning. Philadelphia had the tying run in scoring position in the last of the ninth, however Luis Montanez struck out to make the final out. Tomorrow the O’s take on the Boston Red Sox “at home” in Sarasota at 1 PM. Fans can catch the game on MASN, as well as on WBAL AM-1090. WBAL will also air their full pre and post-game shows tomorrow as they would for a regular season game.