Not only did the Orioles string together three straight starts of eight innings or more for the first time since May 2005, it’s only the second time that the club has accomplished the feat in the 2000s.
“I guarantee those guys in the clubhouse want to try to make it four,” manager Buck Showalter said. “They’re trying to pass the baton now and give us a chance to win. I think this time of year, to see guys getting a little stronger instead of going in the other direction is really encouraging.”
Showalter let Brian Matusz complete the eighth inning and run the left-hander’s pitch count to 115, including 82 for strikes.
“It’s not going to be a blanket decision by a number of pitches,” Showalter said. “I considered the inning before, but where they were in the batting order, and it wasn’t a lot of high-stress pitches like he was over-extending himself at all. He was in a good rhythm and not getting out of his delivery all night. There wasn’t much stress on the delivery. I don’t have much doubt that there will come a time here where he’ll pitch the next inning.”
More from Showalter on Matusz:
“He was good, huh? That was a three- and four-pitch mix all night. You know how hitters get in a rhythm off him? There wasn’t a pitch they could take out of the repertoire where they didn’t have to worry about him throwing it for a strike. When you have that many things and speeds and break, that was impressive.
“It’s good to see this time of year, a young pitcher have that type of success against a good club. Nobody’s operating with all their bullets, obviously, but to have that type of success this late in the year was impressive.”
And what about Ty Wigginton’s tag on Andres Blanco in the sixth, and the dust-up that ensued?
“Text book,” Showalter said. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be done. Robby (Brian Roberts) made a great, accurate throw. A lot of times you can’t get in that position because the throw isn’t something you can handle. Sliding head-first there, you can certainly use it to their advantage. That was a great baseball play. I’d be more upset if he didn’t.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all. I expect it from Wiggy. That’s as clean a play as you can make. Defining it some other way, I’d take exception to that.
“I think it a huge play. Momentum turns. You’ve got a man on third, nobody out or a man on second and nobody out and the top of the order coming up behind him. It was a good defensive play - a good, clean relay all around. And the thing I like was Matusz was standing right behind there and backed it up if it got by him. That’s just good, quality baseball all the way around. That’s fun to watch.”
Showalter spoke to Wigginton about the altercation with Blanco, but he didn’t want to share their conversation with reporters.
“It’s just part of baseball,” he said. “You’ve got passionate men that are playing the game at the highest level in the world and they care. Both sides care. And that’s why it’s fun to watch. I thought it was handled well on both sides and we went on and played the game.”
The Orioles played it better tonight.