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Matusz states starting case with dominant outing

Showalter still mulling a decision on whether left-hander goes to the bullpen

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Matusz states starting case with dominant outing play video for Matusz states starting case with dominant outing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter took a couple glances at Brian Matusz before the lefty struck out six of the first seven he faced in Wednesday night's 9-4 win over the Twins.

"You could tell he was pretty serious," Showalter said.

Matusz finished with seven strikeouts in four no-hit innings. The only batter that reached against him was his second-to-last, Josh Willingham, via a walk. Justin Morneau, who just did a lot of damage in the World Baseball Classic, gave Matusz a tough at-bat before grounding back to the mound.

Matusz was billed for four innings going into the night, and he knew that, but Showalter was briefly thinking about throwing the lefty back out there for the fifth. Matusz might have been able to fit in five with close to 60 pitches, if it weren't for that Morneau at-bat.

"It was great results," Matusz said. "I kept the ball down today, attacked the zone and worked really well with [catcher Taylor Teagarden]."

The outing can only help Matusz's candidacy for the fifth starter's job, although Matusz said he wasn't on the mound with an I'll-show-them mentality. Three of his four Grapefruit League outings have been scoreless, and he's given up a combined three runs in 10 innings.

"That's really up for [Showalter] to decide," Matusz said. "For me, I'm going out there every outing to pitch my best and give the team a chance to win, and just keep building."

Said Showalter: "You never know what a stint in the bullpen might do for him. We'll do what's best for the club. We still got a long time to make that decision. I'm not going to make it here tonight."

Matusz doesn't have all his pitches yet, but the slider and the fastball were on point Wednesday. Repeatedly afterward, he talked of attacking the zone.

"As the game went on the changeup started coming around," he said. "The curveball's a little bit behind right now. That's something I'm talking to with [pitching coach Rick Adair]."

An argument could be made that Matusz could make sense for the bullpen just because he has experience there. Either way, Matusz will continue to get starts.

"We can give them the starts," Showalter said. "The last two weeks, American League East, we're not going to pitch our [front-line] guys against 'em. We'll continue to be able to do that as far as Brian. They're all excited when you give 'em a start."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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