April 26, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Brian Matusz (17) pitches in the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Reports of Matusz’ Death Greatly Exaggerated

Orioles Sweep Jays With 5-2 Win

The famous quote, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” was uttered by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal. The same could be said for Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz who, after less than stellar early starts this year, threw a quality game this evening. In a no-decision, the Orioles’ lefty finished with 2 runs on 5 hits over 6 innings. And he deserved better!

Some Orioles fans are likely to believe the reports of Nick Johnson’s death are not exaggerated!  Matusz made an entire series of very good pitches with two Jays runner on base in the top of the 6th inning. Eric Thames topped a great curve down the first base line, and the over-spin fooled Johnson as the ball skipped past him to produce a two-run triple. Honestly, it was a ball that should have probably been caught or held in the infield. Birds fans are not feeling the love for Johnson, who is now also 0 for 26 at the plate this season.

<<<LATE BREAKING NEWS – The official scorer changed the Thames triple to an error on Johnson, thereby giving Matusz 6 scoreless innings on but 4 hits.>>>

Very much alive is Adam Jones, who once again clubbed a critical late inning homer to break a tie and put the Orioles ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th.  Like the Chris Davis dinger last night, it might not have made it if it were a foot shorter! But there was certainly no doubt tonight about Davis’ homer in the eighth – a totally clubbed shot to right center field that extended the Orioles lead to 5-2.

In the continued absence of Jim Johnson, Luis Ayala came on in the 9th inning to get the save – his first in years.

This Orioles team is a lot of fun to watch right now!

Miscellaneous Observations from this Evening

There would be nothing that would mess up Reimold’s recovery from neck problems quite like a full-speed collision with Adam Jones. This almost happened in the 4th inning. Hopefully the boys worked out their communications issues. One has to wonder how much Reimold’s road trip diving catch in short center, along with the flip into the stands, contributed to his recent physical issues.

The umpiring at the plate the past two evenings has been much improved over so much that has been seen recently. The guy tonight had a very low zone – as early batters looked back at him … though batters on both teams adjusted.

Markakis stayed back on balls nicely this evening with his head down, driving his hands through the ball. This may well signal a change that will be painful for opponents.

There was an interesting discussion on the MASN broadcast tonight about the defensive shifts and over-shifts that have come into vogue in the past couple years – seen by most everyone especially this year. So many balls now that are driven up the middle – balls that would have been hits in the past – are now being scooped up by the opposite side middle infielder. This major modification in the game was credited especially to the innovations pioneered by Joe Madden of the Rays, along with the abundance of computer-generated statistics.

The Orioles really handled Jose Bautista in this series, shutting him down with only one hit allowed.

Rookie infielder Ryan Flaherty broke through with his first two career base hits tonight – the first of them a bunt single.

The Orioles bullpen has been stellar this year, having the 2nd best relief ERA in the American League.

To be honest, I felt that in the first half of the game, a lot of the Jays hitters were just missing getting all of the ball on Matusz’ pitches. But they didn’t. It could be that we will long remember this game as the big turnaround event in Matusz’ career.

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Tags: Adam Jones Brian Matusz Chris Davis Nick Johnson Orioles Blog

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