FORT MYERS, Fla. – Left-hander Brian Matusz pitched two scoreless innings in his first start of the exhibition season, but the Orioles suffered their first loss in three Grapefruit League games, 8-6, to the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Stadium.
Matusz allowed a one-out single to Dustin Pedroia in the first inning and a leadoff single to Xander Bogaerts in the second inning, but did not allow either runner to advance. He said that he enjoyed the opportunity to take the mound in a starting role.
"I felt excited to be able to get back out there on the mound again and get started being able to start from the windup,’’ he said. “I felt like in the first inning I was a bit over excited and I wasn't exactly hitting the spots like I wanted to, but overall felt good. I was able to throw all four pitches and fortunately had a good changeup today. That was the key to be able to be successful and get out of two innings. Overall, it was a good first start."
The original plan was for Matusz to make this appearance and then fly to Philadelphia on Monday to have a small wart removed from his left middle finger, but that trip has been postponed because of the winter storm that is brewing up north. The appointment will be rescheduled when convenient for both the Orioles and the doctor, so it appears that Matusz will start again on Friday.
Sunday’s game was scoreless until rookie Eduardo Rodriguez walked DH David Ortiz to lead off the fourth inning and gave up a two-run homer to first baseman Mike Napoli. The Red Sox added two more runs in the fifth inning before the Orioles finally got on the scoreboard on an RBI single by reserve catcher candidate Steve Clevenger.
That run was scored by outfield prospect Mike Yastrzemski, who was brought along on the trip – in part – because he is the grandson of Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski. Manager Buck Showalter said before the game that the younger Yaz was added to the travel roster on merit, but couldn’t deny that sentiment played some part in the decision.
Yastrzemski remained in the game and got a couple of plate appearances, grounding out in the eighth inning and walking in the ninth.
The Orioles fell behind, 8-1, in the bottom of the eighth, but rallied for five runs in the ninth and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate before Xavier Paul took a called third strike to end the game.