X-rays on Mark Reynolds’ left forearm were negative.
Manager Buck Showalter didn’t hide his disappointment with the Orioles’ level of play today, citing the mistakes and the extra outs given to Tampa Bay that contributed to a 9-6 loss. And though Showalter chose his words carefully, it’s obvious that he’s frustrated with Brian Matusz’s inability to hold runners.
What’s his level of concern with Matusz, who allowed four runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings in his third start since coming off the disabled list?
“It’s pretty much the same as the first two outings,” Showalter said. “He had a good statistical return, but he just wasn’t able to defend himself today - running game and stuff-wise. We kept hoping he might find his stride a little bit, but fortunately (Alfredo) Simon was there to keep us in the game. The thing that’s frustrating is, there was a game there to be won, even after the tough start for him.”
Shouldn’t there be improvements in Matusz’s velocity and with his stuff after a few extended spring training starts, four injury rehab starts in the minors and three major league appearances?
“There should, there should. Yeah,” Showalter replied. “He’s telling us he feels fine. Just not a whole lot coming out right now.”
Is Showalter 100 percent certain that Matusz is fine physically?
“Nobody is ever 100 percent once you pass 15 years old, but I can only go by what he says,” Showalter said. “We’ll see. We’ll keep looking and see if we can find a way to improve it.”
Asked if Matusz will definitely make his next start, Showalter replied, “I don’t know. We’ll sit down. I haven’t talked to him yet since he pitched. Brian’s a very confident guy. We’ll see where he is with it.
“We’ve been talking to him since last year about holding runners and some things he needs to do. He’s just had some challenges. Sometimes, guys have to get ... kind of get in their face a little bit to understand some things, so we’ll see where it takes us.”
As I wrote earlier, Showalter seemed most irritated with the Rays running wild off Matusz in the first inning.
“He keeps telling us he can read them,” Showalter said. “It’s been a challenge for him. Maybe we’ll be able to get his attention a little bit more.”
As for the rest of the game, Showalter said, “We did some things that weren’t real smart that cost us a lot of runs. We’ve been struggling with two strikes. We just can’t seem to put people away. We make a lot of mistakes there, and you can’t beat the Tampas and a lot of clubs in our league if you don’t do that. We gave them a lot of extra outs and some things they didn’t have to earn.”
At least the Orioles got some good news on Reynolds.
“It just got sorer and sorer and sorer,” Showalter said. “Another byproduct of making bad pitches is you get a ball there. And it started swelling up and he lost some range of motion, so we got him out of there. It was pretty sore. He took it in the forearm area.
Showalter didn’t sound like he was convinced that Evan Longoria should have been credited with an inside-the-park home run on a liner that hooked past Adam Jones.
“I bet you it was a knuckleball,” Showalter said. “Probably tipped the glove. I’m not going to become an official scorer. He hit the ball right on the button. Adam’s certainly spoiled us by making just about every play anybody can possibly make, so I’ve got some things that concern me a lot more than that. It’s a tough play until you stand out there.”
Asked about Felix Pie trying to steal second base with the Orioles down by three runs in the eighth inning, Showalter replied, “That’s a mistake.”
As long as I’m quoting managers, Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon suggested that Matusz isn’t all the way back physically.
“I think there might be something not quite right with Matusz,” Maddon said. “He’s not throwing as hard as he used to. I’m certain he’s not feeling 100 percent.”
Johnny Damon added: “He came off the disabled list and he hasn’t regained that zip he had last year. Fastball wasn’t what it was last year.”