Cardinals 4, Orioles 2
The Orioles lost today at Roger Dean Stadium, but manager Dave Trembley was all smiles afterward.
"We pitched good enough to win,'' he said.
That's probably the best way to describe it. Brian Matusz wasn't at his best, but he turned in a quality start -- 6 innings, 3 runs -- and the bullpen held things together. Closer Mike Gonzalez gave up a run, but he might have gotten out of that minor jam if the infield had been a little tighter on a potential double-play ball.
"It was good to get Matusz stretched out,'' Trembley said. He wasn't crisp. He wasn't as sharp as he usually is, but he knows how to pitch. He knows how to pitch without his best stuff."
Matusz goes six 3:09 PM
Brian Matusz had to work pretty hard, but he got through six innings and gave up three runs on nine hits. He threw 83 pitches (53 strikes) and struggled through a rocky fourth, but even his most difficult outing of the spring ended up being a quality start.
Statistical highlight: He faced Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday six times and held them to a combined 0 for 5 with a walk.
Matusz: Bring out your best
Brian Matusz retired the heart of the Cardinals lineup -- Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwick -- in order while holding St. Louis scoreless through the first two innings. He also retired Pujols on a ground ball with a runner at third and two outs in the third.
The highlight of the third inning, however, might have been a flashy pick by first base prospect Brandon Snyder, who scooped a wicked one-hopper off the bat of Felipe Lopez and made the unassisted out at first.
Hill settles in, Matusz sharp 1:54 PM
Rich Hill settled down after a rocky start and retired five of six batters after bringing home the Orioles second run with a wild pitch in the first inning. He allowed a walk and a hit in the third, but he has pitched back-to-back scoreless innings.
Instant update: That's it for Hill. He has been removed from the game after pitching three innings and throwing 62 pitches, 37 of them for strikes.
Rich takes the hill
Rich Hill took the mound for today's game at Roger Dean Stadium and the first batter he faced was Felix Pie, which provided an interesting juxtaposition since Andy MacPhail was criticized for bringing both of them into the Orioles organization last year.
Of course, Hill's control and injury problems undermined the attempt to reclaim his career in Baltimore, but Pie eventually proved to be a fairly valuable addition. Just interesting that they would face enough other to start the game.
If you were wondering, Pie walked.
Instant update: Hill also walked Lou Montanez and gave up a groundball RBI single to Nolan Reimold. He went on to give up two runs on two hits and two walks in the first inning.
Brian Matusz was originally scheduled to hit in today's game, but Dave Trembley asked Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to allow the Orioles to use a designated hitter, even though Cards starter Rich Hill will be in the batting order.
Trembley continues to be impressed with Matusz's maturity.
"There's not much of a difference (last year to this year),'' he said. "He's still the same guy, just more experienced. He carried over what he did last year right into spring training. Maybe he's locating his fastball a better. He pitches with a plan and he has confidence...It's remarkable. He's really had so little time here and he acts like he's been here forever."
Nolan Reimold will be in left field for most of today's game, but Trembley said he's no longer worried about how far his starting left fielder as gotten back after ankle surgery. He also said that Reimold's hitting slump is not keeping him awake at night.
"I'm not concerned about his hitting...you are what you are,'' Trembley said. "What I am concerned about is, are you going to be able to bounce back and play back-to-back days. We need to find out how much he can play."
Here's today's lineup:
Felix Pie CF Robert Andino SS Lou Montanez RF Nolan Reimold LF Brandon Snyder 1B Josh Bell 3B Scott Moore DH Chad Moeller C Justin Turner 2B
Brian Matusz P
Orioles: Morning briefing
Woke up to another beautiful day in the Palm Beach area, and am sitting in the press box at Roger Dean Stadium pondering the upcoming exhibition appearance by St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Rich Hill.
Maybe I can't wait for the game to begin because I no longer have to watch Hill for a living. He's a nice guy and I wish him all the best in his new endeavor, but he was a human soap opera during his 2009 season with the Orioles, and there were times when he couldn't have gotten Susan Lucci out.
He's not knocking anybody's socks off in Cardinals camp either, apparently. He is 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA in Grapefruit League action, but he's left-handed and he has one of the nastiest curveballs on the planet when he can throw it for strikes.
I'm sure the Orioles aren't looking forward to facing him, because he's either very tough or very erratic, which can make it a lose-lose situation for the hitters, though an erratic Rich Hill is good for your on-base percentage.
The Orioles will send Brian Matusz to the mound for his fifth exhibition appearance. He's throwing the ball better than anybody in camp, and has 18 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings to prove it.