BRADENTON, Fla. - It hasn’t been a good day for left-handers on the Orioles’ pitching staff.
Brian Matusz allowed five runs and nine hits in four innings, and he was clearly upset with his performance while talking to reporters outside the visiting clubhouse at McKechnie Field.
Luis Ayala retired the side in order in the fifth, but lefty Troy Patton was charged with five runs in the sixth inning to tie the game 10-10.
The last two runs scored after Patton was removed with two outs and two runners on base. Pedro Alvarez greeted lefty Jake Pettit with a two-run double off the center-field fence.
Rain began to fall as Patton walked off the mound. A storm is headed this way.
Steve Pearce hit his sixth spring home run with two outs in the seventh inning to give the Orioles an 11-10 lead. He’s 13-for-36 (.361) with 14 RBIs this spring.
Matusz didn’t blame the long stretches that he sat in the dugout for his poor outing. He couldn’t get the ball down and he got hit hard. Plain and simple.
“As a starter, that’s a great thing to have, to be able to get eight runs in the top of the first,” Matusz said. “Just went out there never found a rhythm and didn’t pitch well. I was able to get my work in, throw pitches and be able to use all four pitches, but I was just leaving the ball up in the zone and they were hitting it.”
Whether or not Matusz could have found his rhythm with a quicker first inning was irrelevant.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “When it’s my turn to pitch, you’re supposed to go out there and get a job done. And I didn’t do that today.
“It was location, leaving the ball up in the zone. All the hits I gave up were balls up. There’s no secret behind that.”
Matusz is trying to remain in the competition for the fifth starter’s spot.
“It’s disappointing having an outing like this regardless of the situation,” he said. “Every time the offense goes out there and puts up eight, you want to go out there and shut it down and pitch well. For me, I’d like to go out and pitch well every single time. You never want to have an outing like this.
“I feel like every time I go out there, I want to be the best I can be. Stay within myself. And today I didn’t do that.”
Update: We’re in a rain delay with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Orioles leading the Pirates, 11-10. But it could be a brief one.
The grounds crew already is removing the tarp.
Update II: Pearce drove in another run with a single in the top of the ninth inning, increasing the Orioles lead to 12-10.
Pearce is 14-for-37 this spring with three doubles, six homers and 15 RBIs.
Zech Zinicola is pitching the bottom of the ninth.