WASHINGTON - The Orioles have lost four of five games on this road trip and are a season-high six games under .500, but at least they’re not healthy.
Let’s review today’s physical issues:
Luke Scott left the game with back spasms and is day-to-day. Brian Matusz left the game with cramping in his left hamstring and is questionable to make his next start, though manager Buck Showalter seemed encouraged after today’s 4-2 loss to the Nationals.
“Luke had some spasms in his upper back that was getting pretty stiff on him,” Showalter said. “It was kind of affecting his breathing a little bit. That was a little concerning as far as deep breaths. Kind of similar to what Jeremy (Guthrie) had. Hopefully, we can nip it. We thought him continuing at that point would jeopardize him maybe long-term. Hopefully, we can get as lucky with that as we did with Jeremy.
“Matusz, we think that’s a cramp in his hamstring. In fact, he came in here and it cramped up again and Richie (Bancells) got it. He’ll be a little sore from the cramp tomorrow. Hopefully, if the diagnosis is right, it shouldn’t affect his ability to start. That’s the initial look at it, but that could change tomorrow.”
Matusz took the loss, dropping his record to 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA, after being charged with four runs and six hits, with three walks and five strikeouts, in 5 1/3 innings. He served up two home runs.
“Better than the last outing,” Showalter said. “It was somewhat better. He had a tick more velocity and hopefully it’s a step in the right direction. He had a sinker he pulled across to (Ryan) Zimmerman and an offspeed pitch he left out over the plate to (Michael) Morse. But we didn’t score many runs today and (Jordan) Zimmermann’s a pretty good pitcher. I thought we kind of caught him on a little command off-day. He’s a pretty athletic, tough pitcher, but we weren’t able to put it to good use.”
Matusz’s hamstring cramped up on his next-to-last pitch before leaving the game. First baseman Derrek Lee signaled for Bancells and Showalter to check on Matusz, who needed help getting down the dugout steps.
“He turned his back to us and D-Lee saw it and he’s the one who called us out,” Showalter said. “(Lee) thought it was something going on with his initial injury, but (Matusz) said he was cramping up when he would come back on his back leg there. Obviously, it was a sticky and hot day out there. Hopefully, it’s just a cramp, which Richie initially thinks it is.”
Brad Bergesen is still available to start Tuesday if Guthrie is scratched. Bergesen threw 31 pitches in two scoreless innings today, which amounted to a work day.
“We still have the same options we talked about before the game,” Showalter said.
Showalter was asked whether he’s disappointed or frustrated with the road trip, which resumes tomorrow in Washington and for three games in Pittsburgh.
“We don’t live in that world,” Showalter said. “It’s a realistic world. I don’t think the road trip is over. We’ll be here tomorrow. We don’t live in that ‘woe is me, the sky is falling’ thing. You keep grinding. We had some good things happen and just haven’t been consistent as a whole. We look at tomorrow as the start of that.”
The Orioles need to start delivering clutch hits rather than squandering scoring opportunities.
“We’re close,” Showalter said. “The opportunities are out there. We just can’t get a big blow there with two outs. Sometimes one out. Just putting the ball in play. It’s frustrating.”
And finally, Showalter was asked if it’s a scare each time Matusz has a physical issue. He dismissed that idea in a hurry.
“If something’s wrong, you get another pitcher and you play the game,” he said. “Everybody has challenges - Yankees, Red Sox, Jays, Braves. That’s part of it. Washington went through some things. They righted the ship. We’ve gone through some good periods this year and will again.
“Does it put a scare into us when a pitcher has to come out of a game? No. Hopefully, this was a step in the right direction for him. He had improved stuff somewhat and hopefully he’ll continue that. Keep in mind he was working on an extra days rest, too, as was (Zach) Britton, who was a lot crisper last night, I thought.”