On a night when he had some of his best stuff of the season and produced a career-high nine strikeouts, Brian Matusz continued the O’s starting pitching roll tonight in a 2-1 win over Detroit.
He gave up just two hits and one run over six innings, throwing 100 pitches to finish his year at 10-12, 4.30.
Over his final eight starts, the 23-year-old lefty went 6-0, 1.57 and tied his career-high with a six-game win streak.
“All my pitches were working today. I was using them all in different counts and making the two-strike pitch when I needed to.
“I came out there with good stuff all around. Left a hanging curve ball to Inge (who homered), but other than that, I felt like I didn’t make many mistakes at all.
“My pitch count got a little high, due to a couple of walks and striking out guys. Overall, I felt strong for being my 32nd start of the year. It’s a good feeling knowing I came out this strong and was able to finish the season with no injuries. One of my goals was to make all my starts.”
There was a time earlier in the year when it was not going this well for the lefty. He had an ERA of 8.10 in five July starts.
“There was a stretch of a couple of months this year that I didn’t feel like myself at all. There was all this talk about possibly being sent down and I went through a streak where I wasn’t in my groove and I felt horrible.
“Best part was being able to work with Kranny and stick with it. Really turned the season around and that’s huge being my rookie season, turning around some hard times. You learn more about yourself through failure than when things are going well. It was tough for a while, but now it’s all positives heading to next spring training.”
Now it seems each night the O’s starter tries to duplicate the success from the pitcher the night before.
“Big time, that’s huge. Being able to feed off each other with quality starts after another. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a really exciting time for Orioles baseball.”
Matusz pitched to an ERA of 1.80 in September and went 7-1, 2.18 in 11 starts since Buck Showalter became manager.
Reliever Mike Gonzalez, who pitched a 1-2-3, seventh inning, had plenty of praise for Matusz after the game.
“Brian set the tone for everything. He had them off balance the whole time and threw all his pitches for strikes. When you have stuff like he does, you saw tonight and what he did with Tampa last time.
“Stuff-wise I could tell in spring training he was a special talent. You see how he came along in the second half. It’s all up from here.
“You see his stuff, but mentally he’s in the grind. Mentally, he is showing what he can do. Being with someone like Kevin Millwood, who is a bulldog, Brian has taken to that also.”
O’s starters in this series have pitched a combined 21 innings, allowing just seven hits and two runs.
In their last four games, O’s starters have worked to an ERA of 0.64 and O’s pitchers have allowed four hits or fewer in four of the last six games.