When I predicted Baltimore Orioles’ LHP Brian Matusz would win the American League Rookie of the Year award, I was envisioning starts like he had on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox.

Pitching on the worst team in baseball, Matusz’s successes have been few and far between in 2010, but on Sunday, he might have pitched his best game yet in the bigs.

Matusz gave up just two hits, while allowing no runs, walking three and striking out eight in seven solid innings of work.

The key to beating the Red Sox these days is to control the stars that they have left in the lineup. With Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, and Jacoby Ellsbury on the DL, and with Mike Cameron day-to-day, the Red Sox have only so many guys who can beat you.

Matusz dominated the hitters who could have beaten him on Sunday. David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre, and JD Drew were a combined 1-for-10 with two walks and five strikeouts against Matusz. He made Drew look especially foolish a couple of times.

And that brings me to another point as to why Matusz was able to dominate on Sunday—his ability to change speeds. I can’t tell you how many times Boston hitters were caught waving at an offspeed pitch down in the zone.

Matusz’s average fastball was around 91 mph yesterday, while his changeup and slider were thrown around 82 mph. That is some awesome speed differential. To give you a better idea of how well Matusz was changing speeds on his pitches, take a look at his pitch speed chart courtesy of PitchFX…

As you can see, there was a huge gap in speeds between his fastball and offspeed stuff. Nothing he threw was in the upper-80s. Either the pitch was in the low-90s or the low-80s. When a pitcher keeps hitters that off-balance throughout the game, he is going to be successful.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s been a rough year for Matusz. However, on Sunday he was at his very best.

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