Matusz gets early exit in O's loss to Twins

Left-hander, who says he was 'too tense and amped up,' allows four earned runs and three walks in 1 1/3 innings

March 23, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

FORT MYERS, Fla. — — Brian Matusz looked visibly shaken, pausing several times to collect his thoughts before delivering what was painfully obvious on this night.

"I just didn't have it today," Matusz said after lasting just 1 1/3 innings and allowing four earned runs, five hits and three walks in the Orioles' 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins tonight at sold-out Hammond Stadium. "You're never happy with an early exit like that. I'm not happy, and a little frustrated. I'm upset at myself, but at the same time, it's nice to get this out [of the way] at spring training."

The Orioles can only hope that's the case. The young left-hander never looked comfortable at any point, throwing 34 pitches in the first inning and 56 for the game. Only 31 of them were strikes. He faced nine batters, and eight of them reached base. He went to full counts with five different batters, including three in the first inning.

Shortly after he was removed from the game after Joe Mauer's long two-run single off the base of the wall, which gave the Twins a 4-0 lead, Matusz followed pitching coach Mark Connor to the bullpen to get some more work in.

"Right away, boom, boom, boom, right where I wanted it," Matusz said. "I finally got that angle back, and I was doing what I needed to do. I was just too tense and amped up. I couldn't find that flow. It's going to happen."

Alberto Castillo relieved Matusz and got Justin Morneau to hit into an inning-ending double play, leaving Matusz's spring ERA at 5.93. He still hasn't been able to complete five innings in a game yet. That's obviously an ominous sign for a pitcher who has one more outing left before the start of the season.

"I don't think it's a concern," Matusz said. "I wanted to get six ups today. That was my goal, to get six innings, so yeah, that's not a positive at all, but I was able to get some extra work in on the side there. It's just motivation for me to work hard and get myself back together. I don't see it as too much of a negative thing to get ready for the season. I still know what I need to do to get ready. I learned so much from this, and I'll just move forward and stay positive, learn as much as I can from this and get better this week."

Twins starter Francisco Liriano struggled with his command as well, but at times he was effectively wild. He got nine outs, all on strikeouts. He also allowed one run on four hits and three walks.

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones accounted for that run off Liriano with a tape-measure, third-inning home run about three-fourths of the way up the batter's eye in center field. It was Jones' fourth homer this spring.

Vladimir Guerrero also had a long solo shot in the fifth, his fourth of the spring, to cut the Twins' lead to 4-2. However, Minnesota regained the three-run lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth off Clay Rapada.

Leadoff man Brian Roberts went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Playing in his second straight game, Derrek Lee was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.

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