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Buck Showalter considering a tweak to the Orioles' starting rotation

BaseballLos Angeles Angels

Orioles manger Buck Showalter said he was considering a tweak to his starting rotation that could affect the Orioles' upcoming home series against the Los Angeles Angels after Monday's day off.

Showalter said after Saturday's game that right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will start Sunday's series finale against the Seattle Mariners, as expected, but he hasn't announced his rotation for the three-game series against the Angels.

Right-hander Chris Tillman, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Kevin Gausman are in line to start against the Angels in a three-game series at Camden Yards that opens Tuesday.

But Monday's day off would allow the Orioles to start right-hander Bud Norris as early as Thursday's series finale against the Angels. That could help the Orioles avoid having to start Chen against the Angels, who feast on left-handed pitching, hitting .279 against left-handers as a team.

It also would set Chen up to face a Seattle team he held scoreless for eight innings Thursday. The two teams open their three-game series Friday. 

Brian Matusz plays big role against lefty-heavy Mariners

Heading into this weekend’s series in Seattle, Showalter told left-hander Brian Matusz he might play a prominent role against a Mariners lineup stacked with left-handed hitters.

In Friday’s win, Matusz was instrumental, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings and retiring five of the six batters he faced.

Matusz entered the game with two on and two outs in the seventh for Gausman. He was slated to face left-handed hitter James Jones, but retired right-handed pinch hitter Stefen Romero to end the inning. He allowed a two-out double to Kyle Seager in the eighth, but also finished the inning with three strikeouts.

“Definitely to get the work in is clutch,” Matusz said. “This season, there really hasn’t been a set role. For us, we come to the field every day being prepared for anything. Yesterday, being able to go multiple innings was nice, being able to throw everything and get an extended outing was good.”

Matusz has been used in a variety of roles, but mostly as a left-handed-hitter specialist. He has held left-handers to a .217 average; right-handers are hitting .312 against him.

Coming off an outing Wednesday in which he walked in the winning run in a one-batter appearance during the Orioles’ 3-2 loss to the Angels, Matusz said getting a successful multiple-inning outing was important.

“We needed it from a team aspect, but it helped myself out, too,” Matusz said. “It’s nice to be able to go out there and throw up some zeros, get some outs. It’s a good thing.”

The extended outing allowed Matusz to use all his pitches and not have to worry about getting just one out.

“It’s good for him not looking down the bullpen or looking at me between innings to see if I’m going to the phone, just knowing that he’s going to be out there,” Showalter said. “And to kind of attack it with a starter’s mentality, I think, made him comfortable yesterday.

“Guys like to contribute, and when you’re a left-handed reliever and you had a tough outing or two, it seems like an eternity before you can feel good about your contributions,” Showalter said. “I think with Brian — I was thinking last night about it going home — [he] has to feel so much better now than for the two or three days when he had to sit around.”

Around the horn

With his second-inning homer Friday, designated hitter Nelson Cruz now has 20 or more homers and 75 or more RBIs for the sixth straight season. Cruz is on pace to hit 46 homers this season. … Right-hander Darren O’Day entered Saturday not having allowed a run in his past 14 outings, striking out 19 batters while walking just three in that span. … The Orioles entered Saturday’s game tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for the major league lead with 125 homers.

eencina@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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