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Matusz Out Of Orioles’ Rotation After Shaky Start

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1057topper Matusz Out Of Orioles Rotation After Shaky Start

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NEW YORK (AP) — Brian Matusz is out of Baltimore’s rotation for the foreseeable future.

Matusz’s disappointing season took another downward turn Tuesday when Orioles manager Buck Showalter said there were no immediate plans to give the left-hander another start.

Matusz, once among baseball’s brightest prospects, was knocked around by the New York Yankees on Monday, getting a no-decision in a game the Orioles eventually lost 11-10.

“I don’t think Brian is at a point where he can defend himself,” Showalter said.

The Orioles didn’t get a much better performance from Tommy Hunter in a rain-delayed game that started Tuesday night and ended at 2:15 a.m. with a 5-3 loss to the Yankees.

After waiting out a delay of 4 hours, 3 minutes at the start, Hunter (3-3) went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up five runs, including homers by Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner.

“You’ve got to find a way to get it done, and I didn’t,” Hunter said.

Hunter said the weather didn’t bother him. The Yankees’ hitters were the problem.

“You fall behind to the nine-hole hitter 3-0 and then you go to the leadoff hitter 2-0, it’s just situations that you put yourself in that you don’t need to be in, nor personally, should be in,” he said.

Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer for the Orioles. Cory Wade (4-0) won in relief. Mariano Rivera earned his 39th save of the season and 598th of his career.

Only 500 fans or so were left in the stands early Wednesday for the final out.

With few options left for a makeup date, the sloppy game began at 11:08 p.m. The Yankees and Major League Baseball were in constant contact before the first pitch.

“I guess baseball wanted us to wait,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Umpire crew chief Gary Darling confirmed it was MLB’s call on when to finally start. As for the soggy conditions, “it was never bad enough for us to stop,” he said.

Cervelli hit his tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning off Hunter. Two fans reached near the left-field wall to grab it and Showalter argued the ball was in play. The umpires went to a video replay review, then confirmed their original home-run call.

“They will tell you, even though they didn’t tell me, that they need indisputable evidence to overturn what the decision was on the field,” Showalter said. “I haven’t looked real good at it. I know what the players saw.”

Brett Gardner followed with a home run, and the AL East-leading Yankees won their sixth in a row.

Rain fell throughout the night, whipped by gusting winds. Puddles formed and the grounds crew spent nearly as much time on the field as the players, dumping bag after bag of diamond dust in hopes of drying out the pitcher’s mound, batter’s box and basepaths. That was about as messy as Matusz’s most recent outing.

The beatdown Monday left him at 1-7 with a 9.84 ERA in 10 starts this year. The 24-year-old has allowed 68 hits, including 15 home runs, and walked 19 in 43 innings. He had lost his previous seven starts.

“We might get him back out there for some spots for an inning or two,” Showalter said.

Showalter didn’t sound particularly ready to ensure Matusz a spot in the 2012 rotation, either.

“He’s got a lot of work to do between now and next April,” Showalter said.

Matusz gave up five runs and five hits with two walks in only 1 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Matusz was the fourth player picked in the 2008 draft and showed great promise as a rookie in 2009, when he went 5-2 in eight starts over the last two months of the season.

Matusz was 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 32 starts last year, but seemed to be going in the right direction when he went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA over his final eight starts.

But he had a rough go from the beginning this year. He had a wart removed from the middle finger of his pitching hand in early March, got hit hard later in spring training and later was struck by a line drive during a simulated game.

Set to start the second game of the regular season, Matusz was instead scratched and put on the disabled list because of strained rib cage muscle on his left side.

Matusz came off the disabled list and made an impressive season debut on June 1, holding Seattle to one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings in a no-decision. He won his next start, then struggled and lost against Tampa Bay, beginning his slide.

The Orioles sent Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk in late June. In early August, with the Orioles having projected far in advance that he’d be a major contributor this year, the team held a previously planned Brian Matusz bobblehead day at Camden Yards.

Matusz came back from the minors in mid-August, but has yet to win since his recall.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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