It’s Matusz’s turn

As long as we’re celebrating Jake Arrieta’s latest gem, we should also note that Double-A Bowie left-hander Zach Britton held Richmond to two runs over 6 1/3 innings last night. He allowed six hits and walked four, so it wasn’t one of his cleanest outings, but he came out of it with a 3.32 ERA.

If I’m a young Orioles starter, I’m tracking every one of Arrieta’s starts. And I’m hoping there’s room in the rotation for both of us.

I would assume that Brian Matusz’s leash is longer than most, but he might want to dial it up tonight. He’s allowed 13 runs and 16 hits, with three homers, in his last two starts covering 7 1/3 innings. He blanked the Indians over seven innings before that brutal stretch, but in his previous turn, he gave up six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.


That’s three misfires in his last four starts, and he’s slipped to 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA. He also gets the Yankees tonight in the Bronx, not exactly the ideal cure for whatever is ailing him.

That’s like prescribing bacon grease for an upset stomach. Or beach photos of Sidney Ponson.

Matusz has already faced the Yankees twice this year, in back-to-back starts April 29 and May 4. He lost both of them, allowing six runs (four earned) and 15 hits in 12 innings.

A few more numbers: Francisco Cervelli is 4-for-6 with a triple against Matusz. Derek Jeter is 4-for-11 with a double, Marcus Thames is 5-for-9 with two doubles and an RBI, and Robinson Cano is 3-for-9 with a double and home run.

This is a big game for the Orioles, who need to apply the brakes on their latest slid - with both feet. And it’s pretty big for Matusz, who needs to start pitching like Brian Matusz again.

Parting rant: Some fans are complaining about the Orioles passing on Vladimir Guerrero over the winter, as if the front office was caught napping and should be sentenced to a year of watching Mike Gonzalez play long toss. The Rangers didn’t sign him until the second week of January, which means plenty of other teams held the same concerns as the Orioles: Age, health, sharp decline in production. The Angels had no interest in keeping him.

Guerrero finished 2009 with 15 homers, 50 RBIs and a .794 OPS - his lowest since 1996 - in 100 games. The Orioles were looking for corner infielders, not a full-time DH who would clog up a spot in the lineup that Luke Scott, Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie figured to occupy at various times.

Here’s what Baseball Prospectus wrote about Guerrero: “He’s lost what little patience he developed over the years and has become more hacktastic with time’s passing. Guerrero had a pretty amazing 10-year run, but if you’re looking for any of that when you go to sign him this winter, then you’re going to get what you deserve. He’s good. He still has his uses - healthy and as a full-time DH, many AL clubs could use his services - but banking on that at this stage may be foolhardy.”

It’s easy to second-guess when the guy’s accumulated a .332 average, 12 homers, 44 RBIs and .920 OPS, which would fit nicely in the middle of the order. We’re also talking two months here. Let’s see what he does in the next four.

The Orioles are wide open to criticism - you could drive a truck through them - but not in this instance. It seemed at the time that $5.5 million could be spent more wisely.

That’s a separate rant.

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