With every new indignity, it becomes harder and harder to make the case that Brian Matusz has taken a large step forward this season, even though his velocity has returned and he is showing flashes of his old command.
The losing streak goes on and the pitching line would have you think it's Groundhog Day, so it's probably fair at this point to look at his numbers and say that they are what they are and stop trying to make excuses for why they are what they are. Matusz allows way too many baserunners and he isn't finishing enough hitters, so he's complicent in what is happening to him early in this new season even if he isn't entirely to blame.
Right now, it's just an imperfect storm of inopportune pitches at unfortunate times and all manner of the kind of bad luck that follows a pitcher when he's already making enough bad luck of his own.
Friday night's loss to the Angels is a perfect example. It was easy enough to see how Matusz could have gone into the sixth inning again with only one run on the scoreboard -- as he did befrore things blew up in Toronto on Sunday. Nolan Reimold let a pop fly drop in left field to allow a second run in the first inning and Robert Andino made a pair of throwing errors, one of which led to an unearned run.
That leaves just one legit run going into the sixth, but Matusz then became his own worst enemy again by walking a couple of batter and loading the bases with no one out. He left -- like last time -- with only three runs across, but all three baserunners would quickly score on a two-run double by Howie Kendrick and a throwing error by Adam Jones.
If you're keeping score at home, the Orioles bullpen has inherited five baserunners upon Matusz's past two sixth-inning exits and all five of them have scored. The Orioles have also committed five errors while his pitching line was open in his first three starts. He's not helping himself much, but he's not getting much help either.
We can play shoulda-coulda all day long, but Matusz got charged with six runs (four earned) in five-plus innings, which actually reduced his ERA to 7.98 while extended his losing streak to 12 games and his winless drought to 10 1/2 months.
This can't go on forever, but the Orioles would be unwise to give up on him too soon.
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