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Matusz eyes return to O's after shutout win

Matusz eyes return to O's after shutout win

Matusz eyes return to O's after shutout win
BALTIMORE -- Brian Matusz might be on the doorstep of his return to the Orioles.

The southpaw went the distance for Triple-A Norfolk in a 7-0 win at home against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Thursday afternoon. Matusz, who was optioned to Norfolk after a rough start against the Cardinals on June 30, threw 74 of 105 pitches for strikes in his third straight quality start. He allowed five hits, walked one, struck out eight and hit two batters.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it would not "shock" him if Matusz pitched for Baltimore in the next five to 10 days.

"If everybody feels like [Matusz] is ready to come back, he will," Showalter said before Thursday's series finale against the White Sox. "At some point that will happen. But until we get all the [information], I've got other things going on. But I'm just proud that he pitched well today."

Matusz's velocity consistently stayed between 89-91 mph, an aspect of his game that he said has improved.

"My velocity is back up, it's getting better with every start in Triple-A, and that comes with having confidence and having a good feel on the mound, and letting the ball come out of my hand without effort," Matusz said. "My strength and conditioning program has improved and I'm working hard to go deep and be able to go back up, and it's been fun the last couple weeks."

The win on Thursday raised Matusz's record to 2-3 with a 3.46 ERA in nine starts with Norfolk. The 24-year-old retired the last eight batters he faced and threw the team's first shutout since Brad Bergesen went the route against Pawtucket on June 8.

Matusz has allowed just four earned runs in his last 22 innings after going seven innings in each of his last two outings prior to Thursday.

"Absolutely, I've made tremendous progress," Matusz said. "Especially in the last couple weeks, to get that groove and consistency back, to be able to throw all four pitches for strikes. I've been keeping hitters off balance and just have confidence being myself. Being confident to let it fly and have fun, and it's been a good feeling."

Avi Zaleon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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