Published November 20, 2014
He insisted he was healthy, however, even though the results — and some of the Rays — suggested otherwise.
Matusz didn't make it out of the second inning, and the Baltimore Orioles couldn't generate enough offense to overcome his poor start Sunday in a 9-6 defeat.
Making his third start since returning from the disabled list with an oblique injury, Matusz (1-1) gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in 1 1-3 innings. Riding a seven-game winning streak that started last August, the left-hander retired only three of the 13 batters he faced.
"From the get-go I didn't get a good feel, (not even) warming up in the bullpen," he said. "It was just one of those days where you've got to be able to battle without your good stuff. They were able to find some holes and get some things going early, and I just wasn't able to get on track today."
Asked if he was physically sound, Matusz replied, "I'm 100 percent healthy."
But Johnny Damon, who hit his 27th career leadoff homer for the Rays, said, "He went on the disabled list earlier this season and he hasn't regained the zip he had last year. Injuries take a toll on players. His fastball wasn't what it was last year and we happened to jump on it."
Rays manager Joe Maddon added, "I think there might be something not quite right with Matusz. He's not throwing as hard as he used to. I'm certain that he's not feeling 100 percent. That's what I saw."
Tampa Bay stole four bases in the first inning alone against Matusz, who acknowledged he needs to improve holding runners on base.
"It's not fair for guys like that when I'm just taking my time and trying to get into a groove," Matusz said.
Evan Longoria hit an inside-the-park homer and Justin Ruggiano had three hits for the Rays, who won two of three from Baltimore to clinch their first winning road trip of 11 or more games since 2003. Tampa Bay is 6-4 on a four-city, 11-game journey that concludes with a makeup game in Detroit on Monday.
Damon had two hits and scored twice. The 37-year-old has reached base in a career-best 37 consecutive games, tying the club record set by Ben Grieve in 2001.
Longoria's first career inside-the-park homer came in the eighth with a man on and put Tampa Bay up 9-5. His liner to center curled past a hard-charging Adam Jones, and the ball rolled to the wall as Longoria circled the bases.
"I had a shot at it. I just missed the ball," Jones said.
Longoria reached the plate well ahead of the final relay throw. It was the third inside-the-park homer in the 20-year history of Camden Yards; Butch Davis did it for Texas in 1993 and Detroit's Shane Halter hit one in 2003.
"You hit balls like that in batting practice all the time, where it comes off the bat and has that knuckle action," Longoria said. "But it doesn't happen too often in games."
Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis (5-5) allowed five runs, four earned, and eight hits in six-plus innings. He's 4-0 lifetime in Baltimore and 2-2 overall against the Orioles this season.
J.P. Howell got three outs for his first save. Kyle Farnsworth was not available because of the flu.
The Rays batted around in the first inning, getting four hits and stealing four bases, yet they scored only three runs. After Damon hit his eighth homer, Ben Zobrist and Ruggiano singled before Longoria hit a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Sean Rodriguez got an RBI when Mark Reynolds misplayed his grounder to third.
Jones and Guerrero connected in succession in the bottom half, the second time this season the Orioles hit back-to-back homers.
The only out Matusz got in the second inning came when Damon was caught stealing on a questionable call. Tampa Bay then loaded the bases before Orioles manager Buck Showalter summoned Alfredo Simon, who gave up a sacrifice fly to B.J. Upton.
A double by Casey Kotchman and an RBI single by Damon made it 5-2 in the third.
Baltimore got an unearned run in the bottom half, but Reynolds' second error of the game and 14th of the season provided Tampa Bay with two unearned runs in the seventh for a 7-3 lead.
NOTES: Reynolds left in the seventh with a bruised forearm after being struck with a ball hit by Rodriguez in the fifth inning. ... Activated from the disabled list after Saturday's game, Rays shortstop Elliott Johnson (knee sprain) went 0 for 3 with a walk. ... The season series is tied at 6.