By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
6:17 PM EDT, April 4, 2012
The Orioles lost their final season tuneup, 6-4, to their top affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, on Wednesday, but the important thing for the big league club is that lefty Brian Matusz again pitched well.
Matusz allowed three hits and one walk while striking out five in four scoreless innings, throwing 57 pitches (35 for strikes).
“He threw well. Very good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s been good about every time out.”
Matusz, who had a 10.69 ERA in 12 starts with the Orioles in 2011, made this year’s club with a 3.65 ERA in 24 2/3 big league innings. Showalter said Matusz will start the club’s fourth game of the season Monday against the New York Yankees.
“We were feeling like Brian was going to get some return for some of the things that he was exposed to last year for the first time in his career and felt strongly about him fighting back,” Showalter said. “And that’s exactly what happened. And now there is another challenge ahead of him at a different level that he has faced here. But he has done everything possible that a guy can do to make our club.”
Showalter’s rotation will be as follows: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Matusz and then Taiwanese rookie left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who spent the past four seasons pitching in Japan. It was speculated that Chen might pitch in Saturday’s second game against the Minnesota Twins, but instead he’ll pitch Tuesday against the Yankees.
“I’m trying to get Chen some more time, trying to manage his innings,” Showalter said. “It’s his first time in a five-man rotation -- trying to pick our spots with him.”
Matusz was supposed to throw 75 pitches against the Tides, but a constant downpour made conditions slick and limited him to just four innings.
The game was scoreless until the fifth -- and by then, most of the Orioles’ regulars were out of the game. The big league club, or what was left of it, finally reached Zach Clark (UMBC) for two runs on a double by Manny Machado.
The Tides scored three in the bottom of the inning off Jason Berken, who allowed three runs on three hits in one inning. Steve Tolleson had a two-run single, and Berken threw a wild pitch that scored a run.
The Orioles' “big leaguers” scored two more runs on a double by Trent Mummey and a homer by Ronnie Welty. But the Tides scored three more times, including a two-run double by Josh Barfield.
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