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May 2, 2012

What You Need to Know

Wednesday, May 2

by Daniel Rathman

The Tuesday Takeaway
When Jerome Williams threw his first complete-game shutout on June 27, 2003 against the Athletics, he was a hotshot 21-year-old seven starts into a promising career. When Brian Matusz last won a game on October 2, 2010, he was a 23-year-old blue-chipper capping off a stellar second half.

Coming into their outings on Monday, no one could have predicted that both of those runs would end on the same night. Williams had worked into the eighth inning of a start just once since returning to the majors last summer. Matusz had lost 12 straight decisions and had to do battle with a Yankees lineup ready to feast after a frustrating two-run effort the previous night. But they did.

Matusz went first, hurling 6 1/3 innings and allowing only one run—a solo shot by Curtis Granderson that had things looking bleak just two batters into the game. Matusz’s effort helped the Orioles improve to 15-9, and it marked the 1,000th win of Buck Showalter’s managerial career.

As the Birds nailed down their 7-1 win, Williams took the mound 3,000 miles away and did what he had not done in 3,201 days. The Angels gave their starter an early cushion by scoring two runs each in the second and third innings, and Williams took it from there, giving up just three hits—all singles—and a walk while striking out six. Williams got stronger as the game wore on, retiring 18 of the last 19 batters he faced (the ninth-inning walk was the lone blemish) and striking out the side to record his last three outs.

Matusz will have his hands full again in his next scheduled start versus the Rangers on Monday. Williams will look to build on his 10 1/3-inning scoreless streak when he faces the Blue Jays on Sunday.

What to Watch for on Wednesday

  • Petco Park is a popular destination for pitchers making a last-ditch effort to revive their careers, and Jeff Suppan will try to do precisely that in his 2012 debut against the Brewers (6:35 p.m. ET). Suppan was remarkable in his two-start stint for Triple-A Tucson—remarkable because he somehow managed to allow 17 hits in 6 2/3 innings, which amounted to a .486 batting average for his opponents. The good news is that Petco’s dimensions are much friendlier than those in the Pacific Coast League, and Suppan is 12-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 22 career meetings with Milwaukee.
  • With Chris Young on the shelf, the Diamondbacks need their other power hitters to step up, and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt may finally be climbing out of his early-season funk. The 24-year-old fanned 18 times in 57 at-bats during the month of April, but after a three-hit game on Tuesday he’s back over the Mendoza line at .230 and has gone three straight starts without a strikeout for the first time this year. Goldschmidt will look to continue that streak as the D’backs square off with the Nationals and Edwin Jackson (7:05 p.m. ET).
  • Lance Lynn was ticketed for a bullpen role when he arrived at Cardinals camp in February, but Chris Carpenter’s injury thrust him into the rotation. Now, Lynn has a chance to become the first pitcher in baseball to reach five wins, and all he has to do is beat a Pirates team that managed just one run on four hits off him in seven innings on April 20. His opponent tonight (8:15 p.m. ET) will be A.J. Burnett, who held the Redbirds scoreless over seven frames the following day.
  • The Marlins are batting .188/.237/.349 as a team against left-handed pitching. No typos in that triple slash. Barry Zito, who will start for the Giants tonight (10:15 p.m. ET) is working on a .188 BABIP, and his 4.02 FIP makes his 1.67 ERA look like a typo, too. Methinks some corrections are in store on both sides.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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