ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The news on Brian Matusz is unfortunate, to say the least, but we shouldn’t focus entirely on the negative after a 4-1 win over the Rays.
Jeremy Guthrie was superb, blanking the Rays on three hits over eight innings. No way he was coming out for the ninth with his pitch count at 94.
“We were able to throw a lot of secondary pitches in good spots for strikes,” Guthrie said. “I always work on those pitches as much as I can. Both the curveball and changeup are pitches if I don’t work on, they are not there for me. It was nice today to have a feel for them, and I’ll just continue to do the things that I’ve done in bullpens and side sessions to hopefully improve them.”
“Going out today and throwing before the game, I felt good. I was very excited wanting to go out there. There was a great crowd. I was able to tone it down a little bit. I thought throwing before the game was very comfortable. That doesn’t always translate into good outings, but tonight it did. I had a feel for the ball and I was able to carry it over to the game.”
Guthrie allowed a leadoff double in the eighth and issued a two-out walk, but he escaped the jam. A controversial call on a rundown, with J.J. Hardy crashing into B.J. Upton, worked in the Orioles’ favor. It started with Guthrie spinning toward second as Upton broke too soon for third.
“As soon as I walked off the field, Buck (Showalter) shook my hand and told me I did a good job, so I guess if I did think I was going to go back out there, it was cut off pretty quickly,” Guthrie said. “I didn’t have the greatest stuff in the eighth. We had to make up a new way to get out of that inning. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever successfully done an inside move. Sometimes you have to do that to try and figure out a way to get out of it. Fortunately for us, that play worked in our favor and I was able to get that last out.”
Guthrie also talked about Matusz.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I know how much it means to him. I told him, out of all the 25 guys here, you take somebody out of the lineup for the first game and I think it would hurt him the most. I feel really bad for him and I know he feels terrible that he’s going through something that he’s never gone through. That’s bad news for the team, but we’re going to try and pick him up the best we can without him, knowing when he comes back, he’ll only make us that much better.”
Brian Roberts described Guthrie as “awesome.”
“He was able to throw off-speed pitches early in the count and get ahead,” Roberts said. “He threw them when he was behind in the count and his fastball, he located really well to the lefties. He threw his fastball to the outside part of the plate really well.
“We can’t expect that every day, but I think we believe that Guthrie can beat anybody. That’s why he’s starting today. He pitched great last year and I don’t expect him to do anything different this year.”
Catcher Matt Wieters had a pretty good vantage point tonight.
“This early in the year, that was a pretty special performance that he had tonight,” Wieters said. “We’ve seen Guthrie with that kind of stuff, but to be able to do that on opening day against a good lineup, that’s pretty special right there.”
Wieters could tell that Guthrie was locked in early.
“I think I sensed it when we went through the lineup the second time and he started using his secondary stuff,” Wieters said. “He had real command of that, too. When Guthrie has command of his secondary stuff along with his fastball, it’s going to be a good day for him.”
Wieters believes that Zach Britton is ready to make his major league debut on Sunday.
“There’s always going to be learning things he’s going to go through the first couple of times through the league, but his stuff plays at this level just as well as anybody’s,” Wieters said. “He’s going to go through the growing pains like everybody does - like I did, like Brian did, like everybody. It’s going to be a learning experience for him, but his stuff plays real well at this level.”