Brian Matusz fell behind, 1-0, on Brandon Inge’s home run in the second inning before clamping down on the Tigers and turning over the game to the bullpen after the sixth.
Matusz went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last eight starts, allowing eight earned runs and 29 hits in 46 innings.
“We’ve had two games in a row where a young starter gave up a home run early to go down and came back and pitched effectively, and that’s impressive,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I thought he was as crisp as he’s been in a while, too. Just missing with some pitches. They did a good job of fouling some balls off.
“He presented a lot of different looks for them. You’ve got a left-handed starter in the big leagues, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘What’s he going to do against right-handed hitters and how’s he going to defend himself?’ And Brian has done well with that.”
Asked if Matusz kept getting better with each start that he saw, Showalter replied, “He was pretty good when I got here. He’s pitched some good games before I got here. I’ve had very few times out there where I thought he was going to have a tough time. He’s got a lot of ways to defend himself. And you really like the fact that you see the numbers developing against left-handed hitters. You see some of the left-handed hitters are getting out of the lineup against him. That’s indicative of what other people think.”
The defense was spectacular in the eighth inning, as I noted earlier. Showalter again pointed out Cesar Izturis’ value to the club.
“Izzy’s got eight errors. Eight. And playing basically every day. That’s hard to do,” Showalter said.
“I’ve been watching him for a while and he’s one of those guys you don’t really appreciate until he’s not out there. That’s not the case with us.”
Showalter also praised Nick Markakis for the diving catch in right field, Ty Wigginton for hitting the ball to the right side to advance Felix Pie to third base in the fifth inning, and Matt Wieters for delivering the sacrifice fly that put the Orioles ahead for good.
“Nicky makes a great play and sometimes you take it for granted. That’s a tough play for a left-handed right fielder going away from his glove side,” Showalter said.
“And things that make me smile. Here’s Wiggy hitting .250 and we know some of the things he’s done, big hits he’s had for us. Little things I take out of it. He’s sitting there with a man on second and nobody out and a base hit’s not that important to him. Getting that guy over to third base is important to him. It’s not always going to figure statistically. And that’s one of the things that a lot of people who sit there and try to evaluate players on statistics miss, that at-bat right there.
“I think Wieters had four or five sacrifice flies since I’ve been here where you can see his approach and what he’s trying to do. He hits that ball tomorrow and it’s a souvenir.”