ANAHEIM -- Lefty Brian Matusz is still trying to figure things out and get back to his 2010 form, and the Orioles defense certainly isn't helping.
Fresh off series wins in Toronto and Chicago, the O's, who have been able to overcome their defensive woes in each city, continue to rack up errors at an alarming rate, committing three on Friday that put them in a tie for the Major League lead at 16. The defense, combined with another uneven outing from Matusz, helped seal a 6-3 series-opening loss to the Angels in front of 32,272 at Angel Stadium.
Matusz, coming off a season in which he went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA, is still looking for his first quality start to snap a 12-game losing streak that is the longest active stretch in the Majors. The 25-year-old Matusz opened the game by allowing a pair of runs on three Angels doubles and, while he settled down, Matusz issued two walks in the sixth that forced an early exit after five-plus innings.
"I definitely made some improvements in this start over the last," said Matusz, who allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings in Sunday's loss to the Blue Jays. "Threw some nice changeups and some nice sliders down in the zone and felt like I had pretty good command of the fastball. I am just not putting it all together right now."
Asked if he felt Matusz, who has showcased a much better fastball than last season, is close to putting it all together, manager Buck Showalter said, "I think he's real close to it. But if he continues to [pitch], we throw the baseball behind him a little better, he should be in better shape. He had a couple pitches up in the first inning tonight, like a lot of good pitchers do, but he got the ball down. Made some adjustments and got the ball down."
Matusz, who didn't record a clean inning until the fifth, wasn't helped at all by a defense that has committed 12 errors in eight games on the road, failing to make several other plays on Friday that didn't go down as official miscues. The O's were charged with a pair of throwing errors by second baseman Robert Andino, which led to an unearned third-inning score, and center fielder Adam Jones was charged with another one that led to a run in the sixth.
"The plays, for me, I know I should have made them easy so those errors are me, my fault," said Andino, who admitted he was still angry about them postgame. "I'll take them. I should have made them. They're on me. My errors. I should have made them."
Andino's errors aside, Matusz took the hill trailing only 3-1 to start the sixth. He issued a leadoff walk and an infield single before walking Erick Aybar, who was trying to bunt, to load the bases and ended his evening at 100 pitches. Matusz's replacement, Darren O'Day, surrendered a two-RBI double to Howie Kendrick, with a third run scoring on the throwing error charged to Jones.
"You think about who they are charged to; they are some of our better defenders," Showalter said. "So we know that won't continue."
O'Day retired the next three straight with Matusz's final line being six runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks (one intentional) in five-plus innings.
"I guess part of it is he got a little unlucky," Angels left fielder Mark Trumbo said. "His stuff is sharp. It was coming out good. His fastball, low-90s, was good for a left-hander. He had a tight slider at the end, and his changeup was pretty good. I don't know if there's any recipe; sometimes it just doesn't go your way."
It hasn't been going Matusz's way for quite some time. In his first three starts of the season, Matusz has pitched just 14 2/3 innings, allowing 21 hits and 15 runs (13 earned) with 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. He has not recorded an out in the sixth inning in two of the three starts.
"He had a good look in his eye after the second inning," said Showalter, who refuted any concerns about this losing stretch affecting Matusz's spirit. "He looked like the Brian we know he can be. He's going to be OK."
"[Matusz] was pretty unlucky," said Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold, who went 3-for-5 with a double and two-run homer. "They hit the ball in some tough places and not very hard, too, and they ended up getting on base. I think he threw pretty well, but it's tough, you want to perform defensively for him."
Reimold was one of the only Orioles who performed offensively, doubling and scoring on J.J. Hardy's RBI single in the first and picking up his fifth homer of the year to chase starter Jerome Williams from the game. Williams went 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk to pick up his first win of the season.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.