Orioles manager Buck Showalter made no effort to sugarcoat Brian Matusz's performance in the Orioles' 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays today, and he didn't commit to the young lefty making his next start.
"It's pretty much the same as the first two outings," Showalter said. "He had a good statistical return but he just wasn't able to defend himself today – running game and stuff-wise. We kept hoping he might find his stride a little bit, but fortunately [Alfredo] Simon was there to keep us in the game. The thing that's frustrating is, there was a game there to be won, even after the tough start for him."
Matusz has now made three big league starts and six rehab ones, including the two outings at extended spring training. Asked if the club should have seen improvement by now, Showalter said, "There should, there should. Yeah. He's telling us he feels fine. Just not a whole lot coming out right now."
Showalter was particularly peeved about Matusz's inability to hold runners. The Rays stole four bases on Matusz and catcher Craig Tatum and it should have been five had not second base umpire Jim Reynolds blown a call. This has been an issue since spring training and Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor are clearly not pleased with the attention that the young lefty is paying to the matter.
"He keeps telling us he can read them," Showalter said. "It's been a challenge for him. Maybe we'll be able to get his attention a little bit more."
Matusz said after the game that he was 100 percent healthy, but the Rays certainly weren't convinced.
"I think there may be something not quite right with Matusz," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm certain he's not feeling 100 percent."
Johnny Damon, who led off the game with a homer off Matusz, also remarked that Matusz's fastball lacked its usual zip. He topped out at 88 on the stadium radar gun, but there were quite a few 86's and 87's mixed in there.
As for third baseman Mark Reynolds, he left the game with a left forearm contusion after he was drilled by Sean Rodriguez's hard grounder in the fifth. X-rays taken were negative. Reynolds will get treatment on tomorrow's off day and is hopeful of playing in Tuesday's series opener in Toronto.