Matusz goes the distance

Brian Matusz just became the first Orioles starter to
make it through four innings. Actually, Matusz went five and said he was a
little surprised when pitching coach Rick Kranitz told him he was going back
out there for the fifth.

“I was like, ‘Oh my pitch count must be pretty low’,” Matusz said.

At that point, he had only throw 43 pitches (32 for strikes) and after a
14-pitch fifth in which he retired the Phillies in order, Matusz was done for
the day.

Sunday’s start was the latest in what has been an impressive spring campaign
for Matusz. He has 12 strikeouts in his first nine innings of work and hasn’t
walked a batter.

“If I can keep getting ahead of hitters and doing that I can
go deep in the games, and that’s what’s really important,” he said. “I didn’t
have any three-ball counts today.”

He didn’t have very many two-ball counts either, opening the
first inning by throwing seven of his 11 pitches for strikes.  Matusz has taken pride in his control this
spring and was particularly pleased given that Sunday’s outing was against the
defending National Champion Phillies squad.

“It means I’m really attacking the zone,” Matusz said of his
low pitch count. “It’s tough to do with a tough lineup like that, so I’m just
really happy about that.”

The young lefty admitted he started to get amped up during
his warm-ups when the Phillies starting lineup, which featured nearly all of
their regular players was announced.

“I was excited,” Matusz said. “At times in the game I was
overthrowing a little bit, but at the same time I was able to relax and keep my
composure.”

Jimmy Rollins touched him for two hits; with Chase Utley’s RBI
single in the top of the fourth the only pitch Matusz regretted throwing.

“[My slider] just wasn’t there in key situations when I needed
it,” Matusz said. “Especially with Utley up with one out with a guy on third, I
got ahead 0-2 and really wanted to buy a slider down and away.”

Instead Utley found a hole for the Phillies only run off
Matusz and only score until reliever Jim Johnson allowed two runs in the
seventh.

“That was just one pitch I’m really upset about and wish I could
have back,” Matusz said. “But everything else was great.”

Manager Dave Trembley said Matusz’s outing should help set the tone for the other four starters.

“That’s what the good ones do, they set the
tone, and he did today,” Trembley said “In order for us to be successful we are going to have
to good starting pitching. We are going to have to have it on a consistent
basis.”

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