Game Preview 06/30: O’s Try to End June on a Good Note by Salvaging 1 from the Cardinals
After losing both games of the series to the Cardinals, the O’s are looking to bounce back and win a game to avoid a sweep and end the month of June with a positive and a win. A win would also end the month positively for Matusz who has lost 3 straight games and has only won a game once since coming back from the DL. This is bad news for us fans and the team because it seemed like everyone was waiting for him to get healthy and come back and counting on him to be that strong starter, that ace, to get a win almost every time he steps on the mound. Clearly, he hasn’t done that and if he doesn’t pitch better, something will have to be changed. The Cardinals are counting with Jaime Garcia, not Jake Westbrook. They had an off-day Monday so Garcia has had normal rest and Westbrook will get 6 days rest, which they believe will help them out more for their next series.
Garcia is actually a bit of a familiar face to the Orioles. He was originally drafted by the O’s in 2004; however, due to a poorly translated test (Garcia is from Mexico), the O’s chose not to sign him. Even after a new scouting director had time to change the team’s mind, Garcia chose to re-enter the draft. The next year, he was drafted by the Cardinals and none other than the Orioles scout who wanted to draft him was the one that convinced the Cards to draft him (the scout had moved on to work for the Cards). He made his major league debut in 2008 as a relief pitcher against the Pirates where he 2 innings giving up only 1 hit, 1 walk, and striking out 2. After the 2008 season, he had Tommy John surgery and missed most of the 2009 season. He beat out 2 other pitchers in 2010 to become the number 5 starter in the Cardinals rotation. He had a great year, becoming a Rookie of the Year Candidate with a 13-8 record and a 2.70 ERA. After 2010, he was named to Baseball America’s All-Rookie Team. This season, he’s 6-3 with a 3.06 ERA. He’s coming off a loss to Toronto in which he went 7 innings and gave up 5 hits and 5 runs, only 1 of those runs was earned. He walked 4 and struck out 4. He’s also had a TERRIBLE start against the Rockies in which he went only 3 1/3 innings but gave up 11 hits and 12 runs. Yes, 12 runs! Let’s hope the O’s can score just half of that and they’ll probably get the win.
As for Matusz, he’s had a tough month especially with the long ball. He’s given up 7 homers in 5 starts, including 3 in his last start. That was also his worst start of the season by giving up a season-high 9 hits and a season-high 6 runs. He’s also had trouble going late into games as he has yet to do that. His longest outing has been 5 2/3 innings. He has yet to pitch through 6 full innings, which is a problem. He’s currently 1-3 with a high ERA of 6.85.
The whole not pitching deep into games thing brings up my next point. RHP Alfredo Simon has been activated from the 15-day DL, of which he was placed on June 15 with a strained right hamstring. This is great news for the O’s and us fans because not only can he fill any possible pitching role (starter, short relief, and long relief which the O’s will probably need with Matusz starting) he also had the most success of pitchers on the team. Though he’s only pitched 15 1/3 innings, he’s 1-1 and has an ERA of 3.14 with 15 strikeouts. To make room for him, lefty specialist Clay Rapada was sent down due to a few rough outings as of late.