Matusz takes home some hardware

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BALTIMORE — Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz was named the American League Rookie of the Month for August, pitching to a 2.43 ERA and going 4-1 in six starts last month.

Matusz lead all rookies in wins, innings pitched (37) and strikeouts (26) and held hitters to a .241 batting average over that stretch. Taking out his one loss – a four-inning, five-run game against the Rays  — Matusz had a 1.36 ERA in his other five outings and has shown why the 23-year-old was a preseason prediction for AL Rookie of the Year.

Fresh off two consecutive wins, Matusz entered Tuesday’s start having allowed just one run in his previous 15 innings, and he cruised through the first four frames, holding the Red Sox to just two hits. He didn’t allow a leadoff batter aboard until Mike Lowell’s fifth-inning single, and was tagged with just two runs despite admittingly not having his best stuff. 

For pitching coach Rick Kranitz, it was one of Matusz’s most impressive starts given that he had to battle to beat a patient, veteran Boston lineup.

“The fact that he didn’t have his best command and he threw six innings and only gave up two runs, that meant a lot,” Kranitz said of Matusz. “His last few games have been excellent as far as command-wise and location. [Tuesday] was a little bit off…But you know what, [starts like that] lets them know that they can get through September when it really counts.”

Added Matusz: “To be strong at this point in the season is what you want to do. Because years to come when we are in the playoff race, this is when you want to be your strongest. Fortunately, I’ve been able to string together some good outings and stay strong. It’s a matter of staying healthy and continuing to push and work hard and finish off the year good.”

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