Watch live: Orioles take on Nationals in Free Game of the Day

A week ago, things were looking pretty good for the Baltimore Orioles. They were second in the AL East with a 66-51 record, just 0.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays. They had the best home record in the AL (39-17), and they had a chance to put more space between themselves and their third-place competitors, the Boston Red Sox. But in seven days and six games — two against the Red Sox and four against the Houston Astros — things look really, really different.

How different? The Orioles lost five of those six games, and they’re now third in the AL East. They’re two-and-a-half games behind the Blue Jays and two games behind the Red Sox. They’ve lost their crown for the best home record to the Kansas City Royals, and there are several other teams nipping at their heels.

The Orioles face the Washington Nationals, their interleague Beltway rivals, on Monday in Yahoo Sports’ MLB Free Game of the Day. That means you can watch it for free! First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. ET, and you can stream the game on the Yahoo Sports app, Yahoo’s Sports Home, MLB index, video home and this very post. Local blackouts apply, per MLB rules.

So how did it happen? You need just one word: pitching. The Orioles lost their first game against the Red Sox on Tuesday due to several runs in the late innings. Their 8-1 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday saw Dylan Bundy giving up five runs on nine hits in just 4.1 innings, and then reliever Tyler Wilson compounded the situation by giving up three runs in 1.2 innings.

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 21: Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates with Chris Davis #19 after hitting a home run in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 21, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis celebrate after hitting one of the Orioles’ many home runs. (Getty Images)

That was just the start of their pitching woes, because the Astros batted around the Orioles’ arms like a cat playing with a squeaky mouse toy. At least the Orioles won the first game of the series 13-5, laying down an eight-run hurting on Astros starter Joe Musgrove. But little else would go their way. On Friday, after a historic start that saw them hit four back-to-back homers in the first inning for the first time since 1900, every Orioles pitcher but one gave up at least two runs and they lost 15-8.

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Saturday didn’t go much better; they lost 12-2 when their pitching kept coughing up runs while their hitters couldn’t figure out the Astros’ arms. Yovani Gallardo pitched decently on Sunday, but they couldn’t make up the four runs he allowed (plus one from reliever Parker Bridwell) and lost 5-3.

But things aren’t all bad for the Orioles. Their pitching might be going through a rough patch, but their bats aren’t completely lost. They hit 16 home runs in six games, which is just ridiculous, and showed that they can still take advantage of a pitcher off his game. They will need their bats when they face the Nationals this week, and when they take on the wild-card upstart New York Yankees over the weekend. But if a week can change everything in baseball, another week could change everything back.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher