Friday, August 20, 2010

Matusz cruises in O's victory over Rangers

Brian Matusz befuddled Rangers hitters and threw eight innings of shutout ball, and the Orioles lineup finally broke through against Colby Lewis in the seventh inning to score four runs to give the O's a 4-0 win on Thursday night. The O's managed to score those four runs on 11 hits, but the real story was Matusz.

Throwing 115 pitches by the time his night was done, he allowed just five hits while striking out six and walking one. Matusz induced about the same amount of ground balls (8) and fly balls (9), and he also gave up just one extra-base hit: a double to Andres Blanco, who was thrown out on the play trying to advance to third.

Koji Uehara maintained the shutout by throwing a scoreless ninth inning.

But back to Matusz: The performance last night lowered his ERA to 4.97 -- the first time his ERA has been under 5 since July 9. And although he struggled against Tampa Bay in his last start (4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 ER), he's been solid in August, allowing just one earned run each in the other two starts in the month. Another strong sign is that his walks are down this month (five walks in 24 innings).

It's been fun to watch Matusz's growth as a starting pitcher, and he should continue to improve as he gets more major league innings under his belt. The growing pains likely aren't done yet, but remember, he's just 23 years old and has still been the O's best pitcher this season.

(For a more in-depth look at Matusz's strengths, weaknesses, and improvements he needs to make, check out this article on FanGraphs by David Golebiewski.)

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