xml:space="preserve">

The Orioles have very much adopted a 'Win one for Juan' mantra in Samuel's final series as interim manager before Buck Showalter takes over on Tuesday.

However, one player who clearly wasn't in the spirit was rookie pitcher Brian Matusz, who was removed from last night's game in the fourth inning after he squandered a 3-0 lead and allowed all six hitters that he faced in the frame to either reach base or drive in a run.

Advertisement

Matusz stared incredulously toward the Orioles' dugout as Samuel made the slow walk to the mound.

"I was little bit shocked because it was so soon, and my first few innings I was so effective," Matusz said. "Things were going so well. I still felt pretty good at that point. I was a little upset. Obviously nobody likes coming out of the game, especially when you have good stuff and that's how I felt. Juan obviously felt that it was a game that we had, we had the lead at the time, and I wasn't capable of finishing the job, so that was the move he decided to make and obviously I wanted to stay in there and keep going. But if I don't like it I need to stop walking guys and pitch better."

The 23-year-old walked three of the first four batters that he faced in the Royals' five-run fifth. He also surrendered a double to Billy Butler, a sacrifice fly to Mike Aviles and a bloop single to Rich Ankiel and it was Ankiel's hit that prompted Samuel to come to the mound..

Samuel said after the game that Matusz has become a "major concern," though he still expects the lefty to make his next start.

"My mindset with these guys is I just didn't want to put them in position where they could lose the ball game and you end up overexposing these guys," Samuel said. "We've seen it so many times where some young guys come up and they can't find the plate. Like I said, if I can remove these guys earlier than late, I'm going to do it just so I can protect them. He was throwing the ball so good. We just think he lost focus there for one minute and we didn't want to leave him out there any longer."

In three starts since the All-Star break, Matusz has a 12.60 ERA and has pitched just 10 total innings. He has just one win in his past 18 starts and after working at least five innings in 15 of his first 17 starts, Matusz has failed to complete four innings in three of his last four outings.

The disappointing thing about last night was that he was pitching so well, throwing 28 of his 41 pitches for strikes. However, in walking three of the first four batters in the fourth, he threw only four total strikes.

"I don't think it's mechanics, because I felt good, I felt locked in from the get-go," he said. "It was just a matter of being too fine. I was too fine with some of those pitches, and then the 3-2 pitch when I walked in a runner, I was too fine and I missed by a couple inches. And that's the difference between staying in a game, pulling it around and getting pulled. I feel good right now, I feel like I have good stuff, my velocity was good today. Curveball was the best it's ever been, changeup was a little bit inconsistent, but overall I was attacking the zone and throwing a lot of strikes up until that fourth inning where I was too fine and didn't get the job done."

Asked how difficult the recent stretch has been, Matusz said, "Absolutely frustrating. Not happy right now at all."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement