Series Preview: Orioles vs. Nationals


The Orioles are coming off of a win. That’s not a big deal, right? Not usually, but that win was their first one in Toronto since August 2009 so it means more to them than usual. With that said, the team as a whole hasn’t been playing well. The pitching has been okay, the bullpen has slipped, the offense is doing a little better but still leaving way too many men on base, and the team is making so many stupid errors defensively that it’s really taking a toll.

Luckily they were able to salvage one win out of the Toronto series heading into the Battle of the Beltway series in D.C. this weekend. The Orioles need to win this series to get some momentum back in their direction. However, this may be tough since the Nats are hot right now. In their last 10 games, they’ve gone 7-3 including a sweep of the Cardinals and taking 3 of 4 from the Padres. In comparison, the O’s have gone 5-5 in their last 10, which isn’t terrible but not great. This of course included the sweep of Oakland.

Baltimore Orioles:
2011 Regular Season Record: 31-35, 5th in AL East (9 GB)
Runs Scored: 268 Runs Allowed: 282

Washington Nationals:
2011 Regular Season Record: 33-36, 4th in NL East (10.5 GB)
Runs Scored: 270 Runs Allowed: 245

Pitching Match-Ups
Friday June 17: LHP Zach Britton (6-4, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Jason Marquis (7-2, 3.67 ERA)
Marquis has been pitching really well for the Nats but is coming off a 5-game suspension. In his last start against the Padres, he pitched 6 innings giving up only 3 hits and 1 run in the win. He also walked 3 and struck out 5. His last outing against the O’s earlier in the season resulted in a no decision in the Nats 17-5 win. He only went 4 innings giving up 8 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts. This clearly isn’t a good start but we all know how the Orioles pitchers did that day (ahem…notice the 17 runs the Nats scored). So, if the O’s pitching can pull it together (which I don’t see why they would have another terrible outing like that), this could be a win for the Orioles.

Britton is coming off of some rest since his last start was skipped in order to keep his total number of innings pitched lower for the season. So, he’s coming off some rest and is ready to get back out there on the mound. His last outing was June 8th against Oakland where he went 6 1/3 innings giving up only 4 hits and 1 run with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts. With that last outing and his rest, he’ll be looking for his 7th win of the season (which would be 2nd most on the team behind Arrieta).

Saturday June 18: LHP Brian Matusz (1-1, 5.11 ERA) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmerman (4-6, 3.10 ERA)
In Zimmerman’s last start, he went 7 innings in a 4-hit shut-out of the Padres along with a walk and season-2nd-high 10 strikeouts (he had 11 against the Braves). Against the O’s, he pitched very well going 6 1/3 innings giving up only 4 hits and 2 runs with a walk and 5 strikeouts. However, the Orioles pitched even better, only allowing 1 run to the Nats so Zimmerman got the loss.

Brian Matusz needs to come out and have a brilliant start. He needs to wow Buck Showalter. If you saw the press conference with Buck after Matusz’s last start, I’d be pretty scared if I was Matusz. His starts this season coming off the DL have been disappointing as his velocity is low and his command is anything but spot-on. His last outing? One and 1/3 innings (yes, not even 2 innings) with 5 hits, 4 runs, and 4 walks. That is ug-ly. This guy is supposed to be the ace of staff and was supposed to come back and secure more wins for the improving Orioles, but he’s done nothing to that effect so far.

Sunday June 19: RHP Chris Jakubauskas (1-0, 5.09 ERA) vs. LHP Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 4.25 ERA)
Gorzelanny has been on the 15-day DL with left elbow inflammation and will be activated for the start on Sunday. Before going on the DL, he lost 2 consecutive decisions pitching 10 2/3 innings combined giving up a combined 16 hits, 9 runs, 3 homers, 6 walks, and 13 strikeouts.

Jakubauskas made the surprising spot start for the O’s against Oakland on June 7th pitching a 5-inning shut-out of 3-hit ball with 5 strikeouts. His second start didn’t go as well but he did pitch 5 1/3 innings giving up 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Let’s just hope this start can be somewhere in the middle of the 2 in order to get the win.

WHO’S HOT
Baltimore Orioles:

Nick Markakis: In the last week, he’s hitting .357 going 10 for 28 with 3 runs scored, 2 doubles, 3 walks, a homer, and 7 RBIs.
J.J. Hardy: This guy continues to amaze me. He’s honestly the best off-season signing the O’s made of him, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, and Vlad Guerrero. Whenever he’s in the line-up, he seems to do something for the O’s and his defensive skills are nothing to snuff at. In the last 7 days, he’s hitting .393 going 11 for 28 with 5 runs scored, 4 doubles, 2 homers, 2 walks, and 3 RBIs. I really like him in the lead-off spot. Brian Roberts who?

Washington Nationals:
Danny Espinosa: Hitting .360 in the last week, he has 3 doubles, 2 homers (including a walk-off against the Cardinals), and 8 RBIs.
Roger Bernadina: In the last 7 days, he’s hitting .353 with a homer and 3 RBIs. He’s day-to-day so may not be in the line-up all 3 games this series.

WHO’S COLD:
Baltimore Orioles:

Adam Jones: He’s only hitting .192 in the last week. However, when he does hit, he makes it count as he also has 2 doubles, a homer, and 4 RBIs.
Derrek Lee: Though he’s only had 12 at-bats in the last week (he missed the weekend series to attend his grandfather’s funeral), he’s 0 for 12 with a walk and an RBI.

Washington Nationals:
Ian Desmond:He’s hitting .250 in the last week with 2 RBIs and a walk.

O’s Injury Updates:
The big news is Jeremy Guthrie. After pitching a dominant 5 innings of 1-hit, 1-walk ball against the Jays, he exited early with a strained back. He is currently day-to-day and will have an MRI today.

Still nothing new with Brian Roberts. He began working out a few days ago but there’s still no timetable for his return.

Alfredo Simon was placed on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain. He is expected back June 28, thankfully.

Also, if anyone was still hoping to see the off-season acquired Justin Duchscherer pitch for the O’s this season, you should stop now. His expected return was originally mid-June, then late June, then possibly June. It gets even bleaker because now it says possibly July. His rehab starts keep getting cut because of his problems so I’ve given up on seeing him on the mound at all this season, which is very unfortunate.

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