Friday, April 27, 2012

Matusz improved; Orioles win 4th in row, sweep Blue Jays

The Baltimore Orioles continued their surprising start to the new season as they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, to earn a series sweep and win their fourth in a row. They are now 12-7 and have a share of first place in the American League East with the Tampa Bay Rays.

For Brian Matusz, Thursday night’s start was crucial. If he faltered, or got hit hard again, the southpaw probably would have found himself back in the minors. However, Matusz pitched a lot better, as he only allowed two runs – both unearned in the sixth inning off a Nick Johnson error – during his outing. He probably threw better than I have seen him all season, mixing up his pitches and keeping hitters off balance.

Now, the key is to see if Matusz can do what he did on Thursday again, and again, and again. He did not snap his 12-game losing streak; however, he can build from the start and go from there. He is still part of the team’s future, and if the Orioles are to keep winning this season and beyond, they will need him.

If not, the Orioles have plenty of arms in the minors – one of which, Jason Berken is already up with Baltimore – to replace Matusz, if he struggles.

Once again, the Oriole offense woke up at the right time. With the score tied at two in the bottom of the eighth inning, Adam Jones hit his sixth homer – a solo shot – off a hanging breaking-ball from Casey Janssen, making the score 3-2 in favor of the Orioles. Two batters later, they took a 5-2 advantage as Chris Davis launched a homer to right-center field off reliever Darren Oliver, who had come in for Janssen.

Reliever Luis Ayala came into the game and got the save in the ninth inning. Darren O’Day, who came into the game in relief earned the win, his second of the year. Janssen took the loss for Toronto; meanwhile, Drew Hutchison – who started the game for the Jays – did not factor in the decision.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead off Ryan Flaherty’s sacrifice fly, and he also got his first major-league hit in the game. They tied the game at two in the sixth as Nick Markakis scored off a Yunel Escobar error.

In other news, Jim Johnson is still in the hospital, but may be released as soon as today; however, I’d expect him to go on the disabled list. As long as he was in medical care, I cannot imagine Johnson even having the stamina to pitch right now – even if he says that all is well.

Finally, Tsuyoshi Wada might need elbow – or even more so, Tommy John surgery. Oh boy.

With all that being said, the Orioles host the Oakland Athletics this weekend at Oriole Park.

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