The Baltimore Orioles have a chance to take a series from the Washington Nationals on consecutive weekends, a possibility that would have come as a surprise before the season began.
The Orioles swept the Nationals last weekend — although the third game was suspended and finished in Baltimore this past Friday.
Washington then won Friday’s regularly scheduled game 15-3, but Baltimore bounced back Saturday to win 7-3 victory, pounding out 13 hits and beating Patrick Corbin.
Baltimore is going for the series win at home on Sunday afternoon. The Nationals’ Max Scherzer (1-1, 2.75 ERA) will be opposed by John Means (0-1, 7.71), who missed two starts after the death of his father. The question is how far Means can go.
Scherzer is 6-2 with a 2.91 career ERA against the Orioles, while Means has not faced the Nationals.
Pitching could be a big problem for Washington, with starter Stephen Strasburg’s return uncertain after going to the injured list.
The right-hander didn’t make his season debut until Aug. 9 due to nerve irritation in his pitching hand. He was pulled after allowing five runs to the Orioles that inning.
Then, when he started against Baltimore on Friday, manager Dave Martinez took him out after 16 pitches, when he recorded only two outs.
On Saturday, the Nationals said that Strasburg went on the 10-day injured list with carpal tunnel neuritis of the right hand and brought back pitcher Ryne Harper from the team’s alternate training site.
“I don’t think this is going to get better soon,” Martinez said Saturday before vaguely suggesting Strasburg could return by the end of this season. “Right now, we’re just trying to see if we can get him healthy.”
The Nationals also need to figure out a way to quiet the Baltimore bats. The Orioles have won seven of their last eight, all against Washington and the Philadelphia Phillies — after dropping four straight to Miami in Baltimore.
The Orioles have been getting an interesting mix of good starting pitching. The starters often don’t go past five or six innings, but the bullpen simply is not giving up much of anything. On Saturday, Asher Wojciechowski went five innings plus one batter in the sixth, just long enough to get the win.
He left with a 5-3 lead and the bullpen blanked the Nationals on just one hit over the final four innings.
Baltimore has done a good job of bouncing back from tough games and “flushing” them — as manager Brandon Hyde has said — and just moving ahead.
“We know what we have here,” Wojciechowski said. “We’re taking it one day at a time. This team [is] maturing. You continue to grow.”
Rio Ruiz has been solid at third base and at the plate. Hanser Alberto, Anthony Santander and especially Jose Iglesias have been the crux of the team.
The Orioles also had to deal with injury issues Saturday. They put center fielder Austin Hays (non-displaced rib fracture) on the 10-day disabled list. The team also activated pitcher Jorge Lopez and outfielder Cedric Mullins.
–Field Level Media