Matusz struggles with location

With the Orioles fifth starter competition ongoing, left-hander Brian Matusz didn’t help his case on Sunday afternoon in a four-inning outing in which he surrendered five earned runs on nine hits and a walk over four innings.

“Just went out there never found a rhythm and didn’t pitch well,” Matusz said of the start which came against the same Pirates club that Jake Arrieta, who is also competing for a rotation spot, tossed six scoreless innings against Thursday. “I was able to get my work in, throw pitches and be able to use all four pitches, but I was just leaving the ball up in the zone and they were hitting it.”

Two of the runs came off Andrew McCutchen’s first-inning homer and Pittsburgh added another pair of runs in the third with doubles from McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez. Neil Walker picked up an RBI on an infield hit that first baseman Travis Ishikawa made a diving stop, but found no one covering the bag.

Matusz waited quite a while to take the mound after the Orioles plated eight runs in the top of the first inning, but didn’t use that as an excuse. The 26-year-old also didn’t think that the heightened competition –which has Arrieta as the frontrunner –means he has to pitch better than he normally would.

“I feel like every time I go out there I want to be the best I can be,” Matusz said. “Stay within myself. And today I didn’t do that.”

Matusz has a 4.26 ERA in six spring games, four starts, while Arrieta has a 1.56 ERA in five games (four starts) and will next pitch Tuesday in a Minor League game. Right-handers Steve Johnson and Jair Jurrjens along with Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland are still in the mix for the final rotation spot and Matusz is expected to be in the bullpen if he doesn’t make the starting five.

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