It was a tough year for Brian Matusz in 2011; however, if his Spring Training is an indication of the road that is to come, things are 180 degrees from what they were last season.
Yes, the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Detroit Tigers, 4-2, in Grapefruit League action, but the story of the day was Matusz. He continued his strong showing from his last start into Thursday, going four innings, only allowing two hits and striking out seven – considering he was facing Detroit’s A-lineup.
I did not see the game available on either TV or radio, but results as-is for Matusz was encouraging. I’m trying to not read a lot into things this spring; however, I’m intrigued by the young southpaw now. If the Orioles are to begin their climb out of the American League basement, they need guys like Matusz to step up and deliver on the mound.
I’m not sure how hard Matusz was throwing, but from what I’ve read, his velocity is up. If Matusz can control his location, mix up his pitches and get his velocity a bit higher, he will be a force.
If Matusz was good, the guy he was facing off with on the mound was that much better. Reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander faced the Orioles, and let’s just say he is one of the best in the business.
Verlander, in his outing on Thursday, flat out schooled the Orioles. He struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings of work and allowed three hits; however, he gave up in the first inning off an Endy Chavez homer. After that he just dominated.
Miguel Socolovich got shelled, and gave up three runs – two earned – in his outing during the sixth inning. He would take the loss. The Tigers also scored another run off Jon Link – who went 1 2/3 innings – in the seventh inning.
Pat Neshek and Oliver Drake each pitched a scoreless inning.
Baltimore’s other run come was driven in by Chris Davis in the sixth inning. Wilson Betemit was 0-for-3 in the game, and is only batting .095 this spring.