The 2010 season is coming to a close for the Orioles -- there's just one game left -- yet they continue to play inspired baseball under Buck Showalter. On Friday, they won both games of a doubleheader against the Tigers to begin the four-game series, and yesterday Brian Matusz earned his 10th win by pitching six innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory. Matusz gave up two hits (one a solo home run) and two walks while striking out nine.
The O's offense collected just three hits and one walk, but a solo homer by Nick Markakis in the fourth and a Matt Wieters sacrifice fly in the fifth were enough for Matusz and the bullpen. Michael Gonzalez and Jim Johnson each threw scoreless innings, and Koji Uehara pitched another scoreless ninth for his 13th save.
In the O's final game of this season today, Brad Bergesen will take the mound, trying to give the O's their 67th win, which would be three more wins than last season. Again, that's not a huge jump, but it's all about baby steps, especially in the brutal AL East.
By the way, whether or not Matusz wins the AL Rookie of the Year award or even receives many votes, he deserves a lot of praise. He's given the O's a ton of value -- 2.6 WAR and 175.2 innings pitched -- and has lowered his ERA on the season to 4.30 and his FIP to 4.06. He still walks a few too many batters, but he's also pitched much more effectively since the All-Star break.
Pre-All-Star break: 103.2 IP, 4.77 ERA, 80 K, 38 BB
Post-All-Star break: 72.0 IP, 3.63 ERA, 63 K, 25 BB
Matusz still has a lot of room to grow, but in his first full season in the majors, he got stronger as the season went along and finished with solid numbers. It's hard to ask a rookie starter for much more than that.