SARASOTA, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers got it started against Brian Matusz and continued the onslaught against the Orioles' bullpen, pounding out 17 hits en route to a 9-1 victory in front of an announced 8,002 at sun-drenched Ed Smith Stadium.
Casper Wells, the former Towson University standout, had four hits and two RBIs, including a third-inning solo homer off Matusz. The starter went 3 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out two as the Orioles fell to 7-7-2 in Grapefruit League play.
"The results, not happy about the results, but I'm really happy about the process," said Matusz, who has a 4.70 ERA after three spring starts. "I feel like I'm making some adjustments that I need to, and I'm excited to sit down with [pitching coach Mark Connor], look at the video for this game, kind of see where I need to be mechanically-wise. I feel like I wasn't fully in my groove the whole time, and that's OK. But I'm excited for this work week, though."
Matusz has been making mechanical adjustments with Connor, and he acknowledged after Sunday's outing that he was focusing on them too much. Perhaps that resulted in his spotty command as he found the strike zone with only 39 of his 65 pitches. That included a 33-pitch first inning that featured two defensive miscues by the Orioles.
"I've been working with Connor on when my knee comes up, just trying to break my hands at the same time, to keep it in rhythm," he said. "It felt like my arm was dragging a little bit today at times, and it has in the past. It takes all the sharpness away from your pitches, so that's the thing I've been working on. It's one thing to know [that] you are doing it right; it's another thing about feeling it. You want to be able to feel it so when you go to the mound you don't have to think about it at all. For me, I'm just trying to get into that feel, that groove on the mound."
Mike Ballard relieved Matusz and allowed three earned runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings. David Riske also was knocked around for three earned runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Detroit, Cale Iorg had three hits, and Ryan Raburn and Danny Worth added two each.
The Orioles managed just six hits, two by third baseman Mark Reynolds. J.J. Hardy accounted for the team's only run with a fourth-inning homer, his first this spring.