BRADENTON. Fla. – If Brian Matusz had any delusions that he was still part of the competition for the Orioles’ fifth starter, he had better lose them.
Jake Arrieta is set to be the fifth starter. Matusz will go to the bullpen, or maybe Norfolk.
Matusz was staked to an eight-run lead before he began pitching on Sunday. While he didn’t manage to cough it up, he wasn’t very good.
He allowed five runs on nine hits in four innings in the Orioles’ 12-10 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates before 6,529 at McKechnie Field.
Ordinarily, Matusz would be assured of a roster spot, but the Orioles are high on Rule 5 draft pick T.J. McFarland. If Matusz is sent back to Norfolk, then the way is cleared for McFarland to make the club.
Matusz was terrific in relief as one of two left-handers in the late season bullpen. Troy Patton, who was the only lefty for most of the season, also pitched poorly,
Patton gave up five runs on four hits in 2/3rds of an inning allowing the Pirates to tie the game at 10.
“It’s one of those spring training days where it was a tough for everybody,” manager Buck Showalter said.
The game ended nearly four hours after it started, including a 16-minute rain delay in the eighth inning. There were 32 hits.
Chris Leroux started for Pittsburgh, a late substitution for Jeff Karstens, who was scratched with shoulder discomfort. Leroux retired only one batter, Jason Pridie, who hit the ball back off Leroux’s right hand.
After Taylor Teagarden took his first pitch for a ball, catcher Russell Martin was ejected from the game for arguing with plate umpire Chad Fairchild. He singled, and Chris Dickerson hit a grand slam home run to make it 8-0.
Matusz allowed a two-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the first, back-to-back doubles by McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez in the third and two more runs in the fourth before he was done.
“As a starter, that’s a great thing to have, to get eight runs in the top of the first. Went out there, never found a rhythm and didn’t pitch well. Was able to get my work in, throw pitches, and be able to use all four pitches, but I was leaving the ball up in the zone. They were hitting them,” Matusz said.
He had to wait more than a half-hour to pitch, but that wasn’t a concern.
“It doesn’t matter. When it’s my turn to pitch, you are supposed to go out there and get a job done. And I didn’t do that today,” Matusz said.
“It’s disappointing having an outing like this regardless of the situation. Every time the offense goes out there and puts up eight you want to go out there and shut it down and pitch well. For me I’d like to go out and pitch well every single time. You never want to have an outing like this.”
Showalter didn’t say much about Matusz.
“He was elevated a bit,” Showalter said.
Steve Pearce hit a home run, his sixth of the spring in the seventh for the go-ahead. He had an RBI single in the ninth.
NOTES: The Orioles acquired minor league pitcher Julio Rodriguez from Philadelphia for outfielder Ronnie Welty. Last year, the 22-year-old Rodriguez was 7-7 with a 4.23 ERA with Double-A Reading. In 2011, Rodriguez was 16-7 with a 2.76 ERA at Single-A Clearwater.
“He has all the ingredients you look for in a young pitcher: size, arm, stuff,” Dan Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations said.
Rodriguez is expected to start at Double-A Bowie.
Welty batted .284 in three seasons in the Orioles organization.
-Trayvon Robinson left the game after a first inning single. “He felt something in his back, lower back. Looked like a lower back strain,” Showalter said.
-T.J. McFarland will start against Boston’s Graham Godfrey on Monday in Sarasota. Clayton Mortenson, Jose DeLaTorre and Anthony Carter will also pitch for the Red Sox. The game is on ESPN.
“I was getting used to coming out of the pen. Now I’m going to start,” McFarland said. “There is no difference. I’m extremely excited to get a start.”
-Miguel Gonzalez will pitch against Boston minor leaguers at Twin Lakes Park.