Orioles Win Game, Lose Matusz
There are a range of emotions after Opening Day 2011 for Orioles fans. The day started with fans having to find out that the Orioles number two starter Brian Matusz is going on the DL with a strained intercostal muscle. This is a huge blow to the Orioles who don’t exactly have a lot of depth in their starting rotation to begin with and also have question marks regarding how their young starters will perform.
I have no freakin idea what an intercostal muscle is, but apparently it is going to keep Matusz out anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. Obviously losing Matusz for 3 to 6 weeks stinks, but at least it isn’t an arm injury. The Orioles need to make sure the injury completely heals before bringing Matusz back and just be grateful there is no damage to his shoulder or elbow. This does give the final member of the “cavalry” a chance to make his major league debut on Sunday. You can forget the service time debate because Zach Britton’s service time is starting on Sunday.
Enough of the negative stuff, the positive is that the Orioles started the season on the right note with a 4-1 victory over their division rival Tampa Bay Rays. In the grand scheme of things this is just one game out of 162. However, baseball is very much a mental game and opening day does seem to mentally hold more significance. Remember last season Orioles fans? The Orioles had the lead against the Rays going into the ninth inning before Mike Gonzalez blew the save. It was all down hill after that. Of course, a win on opening day doesn’t guarantee a great season, but it does represent a positive start to the season.
As for the game itself, Jeremy Guthrie pitched a brilliant game and showed why too much shouldn’t be put into spring training. Guthrie struggled in spring training but threw 8 scoreless innings against a strong Rays lineup. Jim Johnson came in the ninth and gave up a home run before retiring the side on two strikeouts. Not much to report on the offensive side. The Orioles managed only 5 hits but remember it was against David Price, one of the best pitchers in baseball. Roberts and Markakis both drove in two runs while the rest of the lineup managed just three hits among them. However, when you look at the Orioles lineup you have to like what you see. One through nine, there is not one weak hitter in the lineup. It is a long season and players are going to go through slumps, but the Orioles have quality hitters throughout their lineup and when one player is slumping another one should be stepping up.
Chris Tillman moves up and will pitch tonight. It has been said many times before, but it couldn’t be more true, the Orioles season will depend on the success of their young starters. Matusz is out, now Tillman, Arrieta, Bergesen, and Britton need to step up. We will start to see tonight just how good the “cavalry” really is.