Facing the Minnesota Twins in Ft. Myers tonight, Brian Matusz struggled early and often with his commanding, completing only an inning and a third before being relieved mid-2nd inning by LHP Alberto Castillo. Matusz, who allowed four runs on five hits and three walks, consistently got into high counts from the get go and seemingly could not find the strike zone from the beginning. Matusz said himself that he was upset with the outing, but after a solid spring so far, there is not much to be worried about here.
Castillo, who inherited men on 1st and 2nd when entering for Matusz, got out of the 2nd allowing neither run to score, pitched two shutout innings following that, allowing two hits and striking out three. Clay Rapada pitched the 5th inning, allowing one run on two hits, walking one and striking out one. Jim Johnson came on to pitch a perfect 6th, and David Riske pitched 1.2 innings, leaving in the 8th after loading up the bases. It should be noted that Justin Morneau, suffering long term from concussion symptoms, got his first hit of the spring off of Riske in the game. Prospect Brandon Cooney, who made the trip with the team (along with a few other minor leaguers), came into the game in relief, getting a ground ball out to end the inning.
Facing Francisco Liriano on the mound, the Orioles had an odd night facing the Twins ace. Other than a solo shot from Adam Jones (which was a blast to dead center, almost clearing the tall batters’ eye), Liriano let up four hits and walked three, but struck out nine in his three innings of work. Also working long counts like Matusz, Liriano managed to get a strike out for every out he recorded in his outing.
The only other Orioles run on the night came off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero, who hit a solo home run in the 5th inning. Jones and Guerrero, who each had two hits on the night, were the only two players with more than one hit in the game for the Birds.
Injury watch on the night:
- Brian Roberts went 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts
- Derrek Lee went 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout
The only other highlight of the night was that Manny Machado, the Orioles first round draft pick in 2010, made the trip with the team and got a bit of game action as a defensive replacement at shortstop in the 8th. Machado had two balls hit in his direction, one fielded by Cesar Izturis at 3rd and the other that he got to was too late for the out at 1st, though he made the best play on it that he could up the middle. Machado also got an at bat in the 9th inning, grounding out to shortstop on a 2-0 count.