O’s can’t finish the deal


Boston came out in last night’s game at Fenway Park with the eye of the tiger look that the Orioles had in the first two games of the series. The result: a 7-0 BoSox victory over the Orioles, who snapped a seven-game win streak at the Fens. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in Oriole fans as I monitored twitter throughout the game. To see some of the commentary, one would think that this was a season-ending loss. I suppose that on one hand that speaks to 14 straight losing seasons, and the yearn to win every game (which we know is impossible). However taking two-of-three from any opponent is a good thing, especially in the AL East. The Orioles did that this week in Boston.

Brian Matusz looked like the Brian Matusz of 2011. Matusz’s line: 2 IP (plus one batter), 4 H, 5 R (4 earned), 5 BB, 0 K. Buck Showalter addressed this after the game, but the issue was fastball location. Former Oriole and current MASN analyst Dave Johnson has said in the past that if you can’t throw a big league fastball you’re never going to make it at this level. I don’t always agree with Johnson, however he’s spot on with regard to that (and who better to know than a former big league starter). For the most part, Matusz can throw a big league fast ball, and effectively at that. However that rule applies on a game-by-game basis as well. If you can’t locate it in a game, you’re going to get hit hard. I’ve said in the past that a starter is going to have 10 good starts, 10 so-so starts, and 10 poor ones over the course of the season. I don’t think this game indicates any sort of pending doom for Matusz or the O’s, however mark it in the “bad start” category.

Part of baseball is who gets the clutch hits; last night it was Boston from the beginning. Adrian Gonzalez made Matusz pay for walking Dustin Pedroia (and a subsequent Kevin Youkilis single) with his two-RBI double in the first inning. The rout was on at that point. Robert Andino also committed a throwing error in the second which led to an unearned run. Matusz only lasted one batter into the third inning (who reach based…surprise, surprise) before Showalter went to reliever Miguel Gonzalez who gave up two runs (one on an inherited runner and another charged to him). However Gonzalez, who was appearing in his second major league game) was as solid as he was in Toronto last week. One thing I’ve noticed in general about the Orioles’ bullpen is that when they’re called upon to go long into games they’re incredibly good. Unfortunately the O’s are generally down big by that point, however they’re good at stopping the bleeding.

Gonzalez pitched four full innings, giving up one run over two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. Kevin Gregg came in for his token weekly performance and only gave up one hit, although Darren O’Day surrendered another run in the 8th inning. As for the bats, the Birds were shutout and held to only four hits. Credit Boston starter Clay Buchholtz, who pitched a gem of a game. Buchholtz can be frustrating to face because he…is…so…amazingly…slow…while…on…the…mound. Under no circumstances is he going to be rushed between pitches, which as an observer is frustrating to see. This seemed to throw the Orioles off or at the very least get in their heads. How the game only lasted two hours and fifty minutes with him on the mound (and a complete game at that) I’m not entirely sure. In fact, I’m surprised that he keeps his starts under four hours in general!

The O’s return home after a tough road trip as interleague play comes to Camden Yards this weekend. The O’s will battle the Phillies in a rematch of the 1983 “I-95 World Series” (won of course by the O’s). Philadelphia has been one of the surprises of this season thus far in terms of how poor they’ve played. In fairness they’re pretty banged up, however their pitching has been spotty. They’ll send Joe Blanton to the mound tonight, who sports a 10.98 ERA in his last four games. In that span, he’s also allowed ten homers. If those trends continue the Birds could be in business tonight. The Orioles will counter with Jake Arrieta, who’s in desperate need of a quality start after a few clunkers. For Arrieta, it’s going to be the same story as it was for Matusz last night; locate your fastball!

One thing to watch; according to Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com, the Orioles are still searching for a starter for tomorrow’s game. It appears that all signs are pointing towards Tommy Hunter being recalled from triple-A Norfolk to come up for the start, however mum’s been the word from Buck Showalter to this point. Apparently Miguel Gonzalez was in the mix to make a spot start out of the ‘pen until he pitched in last night’s game. (I’m not a fan of yanking a reliever from the bullpen and having him start a game in general.) I would tend to agree that Hunter will end up making the start, however don’t discount Dana Eveland either. The guy I’d really like to see given a shot is Chris Tillman, who’s been tearing it up at Norfolk.

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