While bragging rights may be on the line around the nation’s capital as the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles begin a three-game series, neither team has much - if anything - worth boasting ahead of Friday’s game at Nationals Park.
Washington (12-28) has the worst record in the majors and has struggled regardless of venue with matching 6-14 records at home and on the road. But the Nationals’ bullpen, which was 1-15 with a 6.65 ERA and 13 blown saves in 19 chances entering Thursday’s series finale versus Pittsburgh, delivered 2 2-3 scoreless innings in a 5-4 come-from-behind victory that snapped a seven-game losing streak.
“It has been preached to him lately to go ahead and get beat on his best pitch,” Acta told the Nationals’ official Web site. “He has a very good fastball. He has to execute the slider when he is ahead in the count.”
It was the first time Nationals relievers recorded at least one out without giving up a run since throwing three scoreless innings versus Houston on May 4.
Jordan Zimmermann(notes) (2-1, 6.35 ERA) now looks to lead the Nationals to consecutive wins for the first time since their season-high three-game winning streak May 7-9. But the rookie, who turns 23 on Saturday, has gone 0-1 with an 8.34 ERA in four starts this month.
The right-hander was reached for five runs in five innings Sunday against Philadelphia, but did not get the decision in Washington’s 8-6 defeat.
The Nationals’ momentum, however slight it may be, is more than what the Orioles (16-25) bring to Nationals Park. Last in the AL East and tied for the fewest road wins in the majors with five, Baltimore is coming off a three-game road sweep to the New York Yankees and has dropped four straight overall after a 7-4 defeat Thursday.
“You can only do so much as a hitter, and the rest is out of your hands,” Nick Markakis(notes) told the Orioles’ official Web site. “…We hit the ball well as a team this series. Twelve hits today, 10 hits yesterday. Like I said, there’s only so much you can do.”
Baltimore, like Washington, has seen a lack of quality pitching cause most of its problems. The Orioles have been outscored 34-13 during their current skid and allowed five or more runs in 29 of their 41 games. Opponents are batting .296 against Baltimore’s starters, who have a combined 5.95 ERA and lasted more than six innings just eight times.
Rich Hill(notes) (1-0, 3.18) came close to reaching that mark in his season debut Saturday, limiting Kansas City to two runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-2 victory - Baltimore’s last win. The left-hander, acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, started the season on the disabled list due to a strained throwing elbow.
Hill split his two lifetime starts against the Nationals in 2007, giving up seven runs and 16 hits in 12 innings.
Since the franchise relocated to Washington prior to the 2006 season, the Nationals are 10-8 versus the Orioles, with each team winning three games last year.