I think most people would agree that rookie left-hander Brian Matusz has pitched much better than a 3-9 record and a 4.56 ERA would suggest.

But if you're not convinced, consider the following: Matusz has made eight of his 17 starts against either the Boston Red Sox (three times), the New York Yankees (three) or the Tampa Bay Rays (twice) and in those games, he has a 2.90 ERA and has allowed 41 hits in 49 2/3 innings.


That's not to mention that 12 of his 17 overall starts are quality starts, and he's done it while getting very little run support and while pitching in front of a dreadful defense.

The Red Sox were certainly impressed with him today after he tossed seven shutout innings and tied a career-high with eight strikeouts in the Orioles' 6-1 win.

"He's a good pitcher," said Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "A lot of times, these day games, lefties tend to do well at Fenway Park. He threw the ball well and when we did hit the ball hard, which wasn't as much as we liked to, it was at somebody and that's what it takes, a lot of times, to get this team out."

David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, who couldn't seem to make an out against Orioles' pitching before today, went a combined 0-6 against Matusz with five strikeouts.

"[Coming] into the game, statistically, he had actually had a harder, tougher time versus lefties and he was so tough on David and J.D. today," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He threw David fastballs in his first at-bat and then he threw a lot of breaking balls and really gave them a tough time. Some of our righties squared up some balls but we certainly didn't sustain anything or get much going. Billy [Hall] got a ball to hit and hit it good to center but we just didn't have much to show for it. He pitched really well."

In three starts against Boston this year, Matusz is 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA, and he's surrendered 12 hits and 10 walks while striking out 19 in 18 2/3 innings. In three starts against the New York Yankees, he is 0-3, but he has a 2.41 ERA and three quality starts. Against the Tampa Bay Rays, he is 1-0 in two starts with a 4.38 ERA.

"Sure, it's real big," said Matusz. "Those are the guys I'm going to be facing a bunch. I take a lot of pride out of throwing good games against the East. It feels good. I haven't faced the Blue Jays yet this year, but my other starts against the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox, I've felt like I've been able to put a lot of focus in those games and kind of bear down to throw well."