Matusz strikes out 8 in Orioles' 3-2 loss to Twins

Left-hander turns in longest big-league outing for O's starter this spring

March 18, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — — In his fourth outing of the spring, Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz showed signs of the young pitcher that dominated at the end of last season.

Facing a Minnesota Twins lineup that featured just two regulars on Friday night, Matusz turned in the longest big-league outing this spring by an Orioles starter in the Twins' 3-2 win.

Matusz lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, no walks and one run — a solo homer to Matt Tolbert in the third inning.

"I had a good rhythm and a good delivery. And that's the ultimate goal, to get in that rhythm so you're ready for the season," said Matusz, whose spring ERA is now 3.65. "Today was the first time out there I really had that this spring, and it felt good. It felt really good."

Most impressive, he struck out eight Twins — including three of the four batters he faced in the third. He threw 80 pitches, 54 strikes, and walked off the mound in the fifth to a nice ovation from the announced sellout crowd of 8,168.

Matusz will make two more spring starts before Opening Day. He is on schedule to pitch the second game of the season, April 2 against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"Opening Day is real soon. It's time to really get in that groove and feel it and start stepping it up a little bit. Take that next level," Matusz said. "It's nice to have that outing today. And it doesn't stop here; it's going to continue every day. Just got to keep working, understanding that feel and keep it going."

Matusz, who has struck out 13 batters in 12 2/3 innings this spring, left with two outs and a runner on second in Friday's fifth. Reliever Alberto Castillo walked Justin Morneau and plunked Jeff Bailey to load the bases before striking out Luke Hughes to end the inning.

The Twins took the lead in seventh on a two-run single by Bailey against reliever Jason Berken. The Orioles closed within one run in the bottom of the inning when Mark Reynolds reached on a throwing error by Twins third baseman Steve Singleton and scored on Luke Scott's RBI double.

It was Scott's third hit of the spring (in 33 at-bats) and second RBI.

The Orioles' first run came in the fourth when Vladimir Guerrero singled in Nick Markakis, who had doubled. It was the only run allowed by Twins starter Francisco Liriano, who allowed just three hits and a walk in five innings while striking out seven.

The Orioles are 9-10-2 this spring.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun‎

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