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Brian Matusz takes the mound tonight for the Orioles against Scott Baker and the Twins. Matusz {photo by AP} got rocked in his last outing Sunday against the Blue Jays, allowing six runs before getting yanked in the second inning. He is 3-10 with a 5.21 ERA this season.

His recent struggles -- he has a 7.71 ERA in three July starts -- prompted questions about a possible demotion, something interim manager Juan Samuel said wouldn't happen. All that early-season talk about Matusz being a strong candidate for the A.L. Rookie of the Year award has long been forgotten.

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A couple of days ago, I was cleaning out one of my reporter's notebooks in anticipation for Ravens training camp and I flipped to a conversation I had with Kevin Millwood about the young Orioles starter.

It was the middle of April, hope was still a word in the Birdland lexicon and Matusz had started the season with two solid outings. I sidled up to Millwood and asked him if all the Rookie of the Year hype surrounding Matusz was legit.

"Yeah," Millwood said in a deep baritone. "He should be right around the top [of the voting] at the end of the season.

"It's not very common to see a guy of his age with as little experience as he has to be this calm and collected on the mound. It's pretty exciting to see a guy with that kind of makeup and that kind of stuff. He's got a chance to be something special."

I know that after more than a decade of losing, it's easy to get carried away when the Orioles -- and their young crew of starters -- struggle, but I doubt Millwood's opinion of Matusz has changed. Matusz has a ton of talent, and you have to trust that he'll figure it sooner or later.

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