The reports were still coming Sunday in from Brian Matusz's Saturday night start for Triple-A Norfolk, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair said they had heard only positives about the outing.
Matusz threw seven scoreless innings against Gwinnett, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out eight in easily his best performance of the season.
"Each outing seems to have gotten a little better, so that's encouraging," Showalter said. "He just needs to continue to make progress to be an option to come back. There's no 'Do this over X number of days.' He's got to get back to being able to defend himself and give us a chance to win, which he wasn't able to do when he left. We're looking at all those guys in Triple-A, Double-A as options for us. Brian is one of them. If he does the things he's capable of doing, it increases his chances of coming back."
Adair said Matusz's average fastball was about 88 mph, slightly up from what it was during his six starts with the Orioles before his demotion.
"He was better. His velocity, on average was up a little bit. His changeup was good. He held runners much better, and physically, he felt pretty good," Adair said. "It probably depends on his mindset, really. He really accomplished the things that he set out to do, the things that we've been talking about. Plus, getting results, I'm sure it was doubly good."
Angle quiet in his debut
Matt Angle acknowledged that his call-up came as a surprise, as did, probably, what happened next. After reporting to Camden Yards, Angle saw his name at the top of the Orioles' lineup card, hitting leadoff and starting in left field.
"It was really exciting," said Angle, the 25-year-old whom the Orioles selected in the seventh round of the 2007 draft out of Ohio State. He was hitting .266 with four homers, 29 RBIs, 20 steals and a .334 on-base percentage in 81 games for Triple-A Norfolk before he was called up to replace the injured Vladimir Guerrero. "It's something that I dreamed about since I was a kid."
Playing in front of his wife, his mother and a couple of other family members Sunday, Angle went 0-for-3 with a walk while handling several chances in left field.
"Impressive defensively. Good first step. Real accurate thrower. Charges the ball well. Made a play down the line that was not an easy play for a guy who's never played left field in this ballpark," Showalter said. "I was hoping and praying he'd get a hit. … Kind of as advertised."
Patton finally gets chance
With a sub-2.00 ERA at Norfolk and with five official promotions over the past two seasons resulting in only two big league appearances, Troy Patton acknowledged that it was a little challenging to remain optimistic that he was part of the organization's plans.
But he's hoping his most recent call-up, which became official Sunday morning with left-hander Pedro Viola getting optioned back to Double-A Bowie, will give him an opportunity to solidify his standing in the organization.
"It was frustrating for a little bit, but the fact that I'm here now kind of erases things," said Patton, who was 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 17 games for Norfolk. "It hasn't been a long time where I've felt that I should have been up here, but I felt like I could have been helping the team this last two weeks and before the All-Star break. I've been pitching really well since then. I felt like I was ready. I felt like I was doing enough to pitch here."
Around the horn
Showalter said he's hopeful that Guerrero (cracked bone in right hand) will be able to come off the disabled list July 26, the day he's eligible. … It's a strong possibility that closer Kevin Gregg could start serving his suspension Monday. … Shortstop J.J. Hardy took his physical Sunday, and if all went well, the Orioles will officially announce his three-year, $22.25 million extension before Monday's game. … With Craig Tatum behind the plate, Matt Wieters started his second game at designated hitter and went 2-for-4 with his 10th home run. … Adam Jones hit cleanup for the first time all season, and he also homered, connecting for his 15th. … Orioles outfielder Luke Scott served as designated hitter in his rehabilitation game with Bowie on Sunday and had solo homer and two walks in four plate appearances. … Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore left the game in the first inning with a right knee bruise. … The eight runs the Orioles scored Sunday were their most since June 20, and their pitching staff also broke a streak of 31 games of allowing four runs or more. … Matt Hobgood, the Orioles' 2009 first-round pick who is returning from a shoulder injury, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out three in four innings for short-season Single-A Aberdeen on Saturday.
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