Matusz: flat-out didn’t get the job done
I have a full story up on Orioles.com on the Orioles’ 9-2 loss to Toronto, but wanted to make sure this didn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Brian Matusz met with the small group of traveling reporters and was about as angry and frustrated as I’ve ever seen him after a start. He took fully responsibility for pitching poorly and held himself accountable, and you could really tell how badly he wanted to succeed today. Matusz has been unable to really shake off last season until he gets on track although his stuff looks leaps and bounds better than it did in 2011. I’m around this team a lot, and probably the only other time I’ve seen Matusz this fired up was in New York at the end of last year, where Matusz –who was taken out of the rotation — stood outside the visiting clubhouse and said simply, “I’ll remember this feeling, because I never want to have it again.” He looked angry, he looked determined and he went out this winter and did everything in his power to make sure he was ready for the season.
And while he looked much better than in Monday’s outing, Matusz –who has worked harder than arguably anyone inside the clubhouse in his offseason preparation– wasn’t interested in giving himself kudos for incremental progress. Instead, the 25-year-old lefty gave an uncharacteristically critical assessment of Sunday’s 5 2/3 inning-start.
“Coming out with two straight wins against Toronto, I wanted to come out and get the sweep today,” said Matusz, who instead ran his career-high losing streak to 11, the longest-active losing streak in the Majors. “This is so frustrating, you know. I know what went on last year, I know it was a horrible year and so far I’m off to a horrible start, at 0-2. And it’s building up. And it’s frustrating, and it’s flat-out not getting the job done.”
Matusz went 1-10 last year with a 10.69 ERA in 2011, dealing with both injury and underperformance, and dedicated himself this winter to getting back on track. He said before the season started that he had wiped last year from his mind, but acknowledged on Sunday that it’s been harder to shake given his start this year. Matusz made the rotation after a solid spring, but –despite showcasing much better stuff than 2011– has been unable to replicate his camp success in his first two starts, allowing nine earned runs on 13 hits and eight walks over 9 2/3 innings.
On Sunday, Matusz was able to largely limit the damage, using three double-play balls to take the mound in the sixth with a 2-1 lead. But a pair of favorable counts went wayward, resulting in a two-run homer by Edwin Encarnacion, and Matusz exited after a two-out walk to Rajai Davis.
“I was really erratic out of the windup today, never found a rhythm,” said Matusz, who allowed seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts. “At times when I got ahead in the count, I didn’t make the quality pitch to finish it. [I] just flat out didn’t get the job done.
“Those are key at bats right there, getting ahead of [Jose] Bautista and not being able to finish him off, leadoff double, and then getting ahead of Encarnacion and throwing a horrible slider that he hit out. I got to get that ball down and make better pitches.”
As for watching Kevin Gregg let both of his inherited runners score, Matusz said, “It’s tough because we were in that game all the way through,and to see the lead slip away like that it definitely hurts. Going into the sixth inning with a one-run lead, we had the momentum going and they jumped right back on top with a big inning. Things like that can’t happen. We are too good of a team to let that happen.”
What did manager Buck Showalter think about Matusz’s outing?
“Still not quite where it’s going to be or needs to be [with fastball command]. He had some counts where he couldn’t quite put guys away. But I thought he was better.”
As for sticking with Matusz so far, Showalter said, “I don’t think it’s an open-ended [ticket]. It’s a competitive place. And so far, so good. It’s better than the way it ended last year, but he knows there’s another level he’s capable of. And for us to get to where we want to go he’s going to have to be a part of that.”
“You can’t hide the ability to do something here, if you’re good enough it’s going to show up, if you’re not, there’s no Cinderella’s here,” Showalter added. “It’ll show up if you’re not. So all of your curiosity, and ours too a little bit, is all going to be satisfied. Keep running him out there and we’ll see.”