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It's been a rollercoaster season for Orioles starter Brian Matusz, my preseason pick for AL Rookie of the Year. He has allowed zero runs or one run in eight starts, but he also surrendered five or more runs in seven others. That kind of inconsistency is to be expected from a talented, but inexperienced young pitcher.

Case in point: In his last start, Matusz allowed five runs to the Rays -- four coming on a Kelly Shoppach grand slam -- in a 7-3 loss. Thursday night, he bounced back to throw a gem. Matusz shut out the hot-hotting Rangers over eight innings in a 4-0 Orioles win, striking out six and allowing five hits.

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"I don't go out there thinking, 'I'm going to go eight,'" Matusz told reporters after the game. "But I know in my game plan I want to be able to attack the zone, work ahead, let the defense play, keep them on their toes and get in a groove. I was able to do that today and able to finish off the eighth inning."

Matusz's performance impressed Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has no doubt added the 23-year-old to his nugget list.

"He was good, huh?" Showalter said. "There wasn't a pitch they could take out of the repertoire where they didn't have to worry about him throwing it for a strike. … It's good to see, this time of year, a young pitcher have that type of success against a good club. Nobody's operating with all their bullets, obviously, but to have that type of success this late in the year was impressive."

Showalter then quickly ran off to hunt down Adam Jones and exact revenge for Thursday night's butt-slapping incident.

Fun fact department:

Matusz, Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie were the first trio of Orioles starters to go eight innings or more in consecutive games since May 2005 (Daniel Cabrera,

Erik Bedard

and

Sidney Ponson).
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