ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Brian Matusz has a long way to go to surpass the major league record of 27 consecutive losses set by Anthony Young with the New York Mets almost 20 years ago.
At the moment, the Baltimore Orioles’ 25-year-old left-hander is just one shy of equaling Mile Boddicker’s franchise record for futility.
Matusz was charged with six runs — four earned — and eight hits through five-plus innings Friday night in a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft has an 11.64 ERA in 13 starts since his last victory — 12 straight losses — on June 6, 2011, against Oakland. His drought is the longest by any active major leaguer.
“I’m just going to prepare for my next start. That’s all I can do,” Matusz said. “I made some good pitches tonight, but I also didn’t make some pitches when I needed to. I tried to come inside with the fastball a couple of times, but left it over the middle of the plate and got hurt.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is noticing steady improvement in Matusz, who has allowed 13 earned runs, 19 hits and 11 walks in 14 innings this season.
“He’s been a little better each time he’s pitched,” Showalter said. “Tonight it just got away from him a little bit at the end. He got out of his delivery a little bit. I thought he hit his stride around the third inning and pitched like we know he can. I think if we threw the baseball a little bit better behind him, he would have been in a little better shape.”
The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the first on doubles by Howie Kendrick, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo. Kendrick made it 3-0 in the second with an RBI single that scored Alberto Callaspo, who reached on the first of two throwing errors by second baseman Robert Andino.
“That’s big for our team. That’s the only way you’re going to win ballgames — by driving in runs,” said Kendrick, one of seven batters in the starting lineup who came in with fewer than five RBIs. “A lot of guys swung the bats well for us tonight, and that’s what we have to do all year long. We have to be consistent and put together a lot of good at-bats, like we did tonight. We hit some good pitches and got some balls to fall. You can’t rely on hitting home runs all the time.”
Matusz (0-3) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth when J.J. Hardy made a leaping grab of Hunter’s broken-bat liner to shortstop and tossed to Andino for an inning-ending double play. But the Angels made it 6-1 in the sixth with three runs after loading the bases again with none out.
Kendrick greeted former Angels righty Darren O’Day with a two-run double to center. Erick Aybar scored behind Chris Iannetta and Callaspo after an errant relay throw by center fielder Adam Jones — the Orioles’ third error of the game.
Orioles leadoff batter Nolan Reimold, who sat out Thursday’s game because of a stiff neck, extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He was 3 for 5 with a two-run homer in the seventh that chased starter Jerome Williams (1-1) and sliced the Angels’ lead to 6-3.
Williams allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out six and walking one. Jordan Walden converted the first ninth-inning save situation by the Angels this season.
“Jerome’s got good stuff and he knows what to do with it,” Angels center fielder Vernon Wells said. “His slider and cutter were really good tonight, and he was able to keep guys off his fastball. I think there were a couple of pitches he would like to have back, but he was really good and I think he has a chance to do some damage in that fifth starter role.”
Albert Pujols, mired in the longest season-opening home run drought of his career, was 0 for 4 — including a towering drive to left field that Reimold caught with his back against the fence to end the second inning.
Pujols, a three-time NL MVP who left the World Series champion Cardinals to sign a $240 million contract with the Angels, is batting .276 with four RBIs in 14 games and 58 at-bats after averaging 40.5 homers and 120.8 RBIs over his 11 previous big league seasons with St. Louis.
Pujols, a two-time Gold Glove winner at first base, robbed Chris Davis of a hit with a diving stop of his sharp grounder in the hole for the third out of the second.
NOTES: The Angels selected Matusz in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, but he elected to attend the University of San Diego instead. This is Showalter’s second full season managing the Orioles, who were 69-93 in 2011. Everywhere else he’s managed in the big leagues — the New York Yankees, Arizona and Texas — Showalter took teams that had losing records in his first full season with them and guided them to winning records the following year.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)