CLEARWATER, Fla. - Many scouts had Brian Matusz’s fastball in the 90-91 mph range today, but at least one scout clocked him at 93-94 mph. I guess it depends on the gun.
“I didn’t know that,” he said, his eyes widening and a smile creasing his face. “I felt like it was coming out pretty good. I wasn’t sure exactly how hard it was, but it felt like it was coming out effortlessly. Nice explosion.”
Matusz shut out the Phillies on three hits over four innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. He’s the first Orioles pitcher to go four innings this spring.
“It felt good to be able to go out there and go four innings and keep the pitch count down, and being to get four ups. Just working quick and efficiently,” Matusz said.
“It helped with all the nice plays by the outfielders and (Matt) Antonelli there at second, (Ryan) Flaherty at short. The defense made some really nice plays.
“That’s a tough lineup, especially at home in Clearwater. It felt nice to be able to go out there against a top-notch lineup and be able to attack the zone like that.”
It’s apparent that Matusz is in better physical condition this spring.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Getting stronger physically in the weight room as well with the long toss and refining the mechanics. I feel I was powerful out there today, powerful and explosive.”
Catcher Matt Wieters sees big differences in Matusz from 2011 to this spring.
“He’s throwing all his pitches for strikes, and two-strike put-aways,” Wieters said. “He was able to have command in Monday’s outing but he wasn’t able to throw the two-strike pitches where he wanted to. He was able to throw both today, get ahead off-speed as well as put-away off-speed.
“It’s a different guy from last year. I think he realizes that last year he had a tough year, but now he’s back to being the Brian we know he is.”
First baseman Chris Davis hit the Orioles’ first home run of the spring. Coincidentally, one of the clubhouse televisions was showing a replay as reporters approached his locker in the sixth inning.
“I didn’t know that was the first one,” he said. “I felt like every place we’ve played, the wind has been blowing in. Our park was a joke the first few days. And then we get here and it’s supposed to be a good place to hit, and we look up and the wind’s blowing in.
“The games I’ve been in, I’ve seen a lot of guys hit the ball hard, hit balls low, which is kind of what you want early in spring. You don’t want to be popping balls up and getting underneath the baseball, so I think our offense is doing all right. I think it’s funny that it was the first one of the spring, though.”
Davis also was impressed with Matusz, saying, “Brian looked really good. It was good to see somebody go out there and pound the strike zone. Keeps your infielders in the game, keeps your defense behind you alert. He looked really good.
“That’s not an easy lineup to go through. Now granted, they didn’t have (Chase) Utley and Ryan Howard. A couple guys are missing, but they still had some starters who are good players, so I was happy to see him pitch well.”
Alfredo Simon threw three scoreless innings in relief. The Orioles lead, 1-0, in the ninth inning.