Those runners didn’t budge, which is typical when Matusz comes into a game with the bases littered.
Matusz induced a fly ball from Kelly Johnson to strand Yunel Escobar and Desmond Jennings, who singled with two outs. Matusz has stranded all five runners he’s inherited this season and all 19 since he moved to the bullpen last summer.
The guy clearly wants to be a starter, but he’s so valuable in his current role. And pitching in relief here beats starting at Triple-A Norfolk, so he’s not going to argue or pout. Just give him the ball.
Matusz is making his sixth appearance tonight, and he’s allowed only one run and two hits in 4 2/3 innings, with one walk and four strikeouts. He’s faced nine left-handed hitters and permitted one hit, with three strikeouts.
The only run off Matusz came on April 4 at Tropicana Field. He had a win and two holds in his last three appearances before tonight.
He’s back on the mound for the seventh with the Orioles trailing the Rays, 5-4.
Update: Searching for a good story angle tonight? How about Steve Pearce ending an 0-for-15 slump by drilling a two-run homer off left-hander Jake McGee in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead?
McGee replaced starter David Price after J.J. Hardy’s leadoff double. He threw seven pitches to Pearce, all four-seamers clocked at 95, 95, 94, 95, 97, 94 and 95 mph. Pearce really timed the last one and launched it into the left field seats.
Orioles designated hitters are now 4-for-50.
Price is charged with five runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. Manager Joe Maddon removed him after 86 pitches.
Matusz tossed 1 1/3 perfect innings, striking out one. Darren O’Day will pitch the eighth.
Update II: Darren O’Day served up a game-tying home run to James Loney with one out in the eighth inning.
Loney hadn’t homered before tonight. The Rays have hit four home runs.
O’Day hadn’t allowed an earned run in seven innings before tonight.
Update III: Matt Wieters hit a first-pitch grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to give the Orioles a 10-6 victory over the Rays.
Jones followed with a drive to deep right field, the ball slamming off the wall. Markakis held at third, and Jones had to race back to first after reaching second and assuming the game was over.
It’s never easy.
Bases loaded, no outs for Wieters, who crushed the first offering from Gomes for the first Orioles walk-off grand slam since Harold Baines on May 4, 1999 vs. the White Sox.
The Orioles won 16 straight extra-inning games in 2012, and now they’re 1-0 in that department this season.