BOSTON - Brian Matusz threw 97 pitches in 7 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Saturday, one of the keys to a 2-1 victory. He was able to go deeper in the game, and the bullpen wasn’t needed until later.
Tonight, Matusz threw 37 pitches in the bottom of the first and fell behind, 2-0, on Adrian Gonzalez’s bases-loaded double down the right field line.
Matusz walked Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks and gave up a single to Kevin Youkilis. The Red Sox kept fouling off pitches and getting deep in the count, and Gonzalez delivered the big blow.
By comparison, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz threw 12 pitches in the top of the first, giving up a leadoff single to Endy Chavez before striking out J.J. Hardy and getting a double play grounder from Adam Jones.
Chavez has six hits in his last five games.
Matusz has strung together four consecutive quality starts. The challenge tonight will be getting through six innings.
If manager Buck Showalter needs a long man tonight, he’ll choose between Miguel Gonzalez and Dana Eveland, which will eliminate one candidate for Saturday’s start against the Phillies at Camden Yards.
Gonzalez has pitched once with the Orioles, working 3 1/3 innings in Toronto on May 29.
Update: It didn’t get any better in the second.
Matusz is up to 65 pitches, including 32 for strikes, and the Orioles are down, 4-0.
Matusz has tied his career high with five walks. One of the runs he allowed in the second was unearned because of second baseman Robert Andino’s throwing error.
Gonzalez was warming in the second inning. Pitching coach Rick Adair already has made two trips to the mound.
Update II: Matusz allowed a leadoff single to Gonzalez in the third and was removed from the game. It’s his shortest outing since lasting 1 2/3 innings and giving up six runs on Sept. 19, 2011 at Fenway Park.
Miguel Gonzalez entered the game, so he won’t be starting on Saturday.
Darnell McDonald doubled with one out. Kelly Shoppach struck out, but Daniel Nava lined a two-run single into right field and advanced when Chavez overran the ball for the Orioles’ second error of the night.
Matusz’s final line: 2 innings, 4 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 0 strikeouts. He threw 67 pitches, 33 for strikes.
In his last three starts at Fenway Park, Matusz has allowed 11 earned runs (12 total) and 13 hits in 8 2/3 innings, with 10 walks and four strikeouts.
Update III: Gonzalez allowed one run and two hits in four innings, with two walks and two strikeouts. That ties for the Orioles’ longest relief outing of the season. Dana Eveland went four innings on May 28 in Toronto.
Eveland warmed up in the sixth, but Kevin Gregg entered in the seventh. Eveland remains a candidate to start Saturday, along with Tommy Hunter.
The Orioles haven’t done much with Buchholz. They’re being shut out on only three hits through seven innings.
Buchholz had a 6.58 ERA before tonight, though he allowed two earned runs in three of his last four starts.
The Orioles have one extra-base hit since the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s series opener. Chris Davis doubled in the second inning tonight.
Update IV: Kevin Youkilis had an RBI double off Darren O’Day in the eighth, and the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 7-0.
Buchholz has his third career shutout, all against the Orioles, including a no-hitter.
The Orioles went 3-6 on the road trip, their worst of the season. They committed 11 errors in nine games.
Tampa Bay is leading the Yankees, 5-1, in the seventh, so we could have another first-place tie in the American League East.