SARASOTA, Fla. - Tony Plagman hit a game-tying home run off reliever Luis Ayala in the top of the seventh inning while I was walking to the clubhouse to interview Brian Matusz.
Orioles 4, Tigers 4.
The Orioles still have a shot at their record-setting sixth exhibition tie of 2012.
Matusz settled down after a three-run first inning to blank the Tigers through the fifth and retire the last nine batters he faced.
“Just came out of the gates amped up with a lot of energy,” Matusz said. “The first inning, it killed me not getting ahead in the count. Gave up some two-strike hits. After that first inning, I was able to shake it off and just get back to work with (Matt) Wieters. I really found a nice rhythm.”
And that’s the positive that Matusz will take from this start.
“Absolutely, being able to come back after a tough first and still be able to go deep in the game and keep my team in it,” he said. “The defense was awesome today. Ground ball for a double play really helped out.
“I felt strong. I felt just as strong in the fifth inning as I did in the first. I was able to get my pitch count up and I was able to iron out the mechanical adjustments I’ve needed to.”
Has Matusz done everything he could to make the team out of spring training?
“You know, I did what I needed to this spring in order to go out and continue to build up my pitch count and get comfortable on the mound again,” he said. “I feel like I’ve built my pitch count up and I’m strong and I’ve made the adjustments I’ve needed to mechanically and I feel like I’m on the right track to prepare myself for the season.”
Update: Jim Johnson walked two batters in the ninth and gave up a two-out, two-run triple to Plagman. Johnson’s fastball topped out at 93 mph a few times.