ABERDEEN, Md - After pitching very poorly in his last two starts, with the results to show for that, Orioles 2009 first-round pick Matt Hobgood pitched better tonight here at Ripken Stadium and it sure looked like his comeback took a step forward.
Working to rehab a strained right rotator cuff, he gave up just one run over four innings plus two batters against the Hudson Valley Renegades. His fastball velocity sat mostly in the 88-90 mph range, topping out a few times at 91 and 92.
In his previous two starts, the right-hander, who turned 21 on Wednesday, gave up 15 runs, all earned, in just 4 1/3 combined innings.
"It was nice to not give up six or nine or whatever I gave up my last two. But I wasn't thinking about that," Hobgood said after the game. "I just wanted to go out and try and repeat my delivery. I felt like I was very in control of myself and all my pitches. I threw a couple of first-pitch curveballs for strikes and changeups for strikes. I felt really good, good outing.
"I felt like I threw a decent amount of strikes and I was able to keep runners off base for the most part. Got behind on some of the hitters but my arm feels good and I was peaking up a little to see what I was throwing."
But this was much better tonight. After giving up just one run through the first four innings on 53 pitches, Hobgood came out for the fifth. But he walked the first two batters and Ryan Berry replaced him.
Berry, himself on the comeback trail from shoulder tendinitis, got out of that jam to quickly end the fifth and keep it with just one run on Hobgood's record. So Hobgood's final line was four innings plus two batters, allowing three hits, one run, two walks and two strikeouts. He threw 63 pitches, 37 for strikes.
Hobgood had retired the side in order in the first two innings, throwing 15 pitches in the first and seven pitches in the second inning. He gave up a two-out, RBI double in the third and pitched out of a two-out jam in the fourth. He gave up a single and hit a batter with two down, but a strikeout ended that inning.
He entered tonight with a record of 0-3 and ERA of 13.86 in four starts with short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
The IronBirds are now batting and trail Hudson Valley 1-0 in the last of the fifth.
Updated: Aberdeen scored three runs in the last of the fifth to take a 3-1 lead on a Glynn Davis RBI single and Martin Serrata two-run double.
Final Update: Aberdeen won this one, 4-1. The IronBirds improved to 17-32 with a season-high, fourth win in a row. Berry pitched two scoreless innings to get the win and Orioles 2011 fourth-round pick Kyle Simon, out of the University of Arizona, pitched a scoreless ninth.