Just a couple weeks ago Brian Matusz was struggling in the minors following his demotion to Triple-A and complaining publicly about the changes Baltimore pitching coaches asked him to make this season.
However, yesterday Matusz threw a complete-game shutout at Triple-A and the Orioles dropped Chris Tillman from the rotation, leading Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun to speculate that Matusz could be back in the majors as soon as Tuesday.
That’s when Tillman was scheduled to make his next start and Connolly notes that Matusz’s velocity was up during yesterday’s gem, but also writes that the Orioles may be hesitant to recall him this soon because “if he’s not ready and gets clobbered again consistently at the big-league level, he may regress further.”
Perhaps, but if the Orioles want Matusz to be in the 2012 rotation they’re running out of time to let the former No. 4 overall pick show he’s ready and at an AL-worst 45-70 they aren’t playing for anything but draft position.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.