The Baltimore Orioles completed a 4-1, two city road trip through Chicago and Washington, D.C. by beating the Nationals on Tuesday and Wednesday night in the nation's capital. For those of us worried about the Orioles' pitching this year (myself included), the Orioles' 1-0 and 4-0 wins over the Nationals were a pleasant surprise and a reminder of how good the Orioles pitching can be. Yes, the Nationals are 27th out of 30 teams in runs scored, and dead last in the Major Leagues in home runs. But you have to play the games on your schedule, and every win in April will matter come September when the Orioles are hopefully in the thick of the playoff race. Let's take a closer look at these wins.
1. Game 1: Orioles 1, Nationals 0.
Game one of the series featured a pair of talented, but struggling, right-handers in Dean Kremer of the Orioles and Josiah Gray of the Nationals. While both starters pitched well, Kremer outdueled Gray, firing 6.2 shutout innings and striking out six Nats while allowing only four hits. Kremer shows true grit in this game, escaping a second and third, no out situation in the bottom of the third by fanning Lane Thomas, Dominic Smith, and Joey Meneses consecutively. Here he is after striking out Meneses to end the third.
The Orioles' offense did not fare much better, scoring only one run all game on Austin Hays' fourth-inning RBI single. But after Kremer, the Orioles' bullpen shut the door with 2.1 scoreless innings. The "Cano Show" left Chicago and continued its U.S. tour in D.C., as Yennier Cano fired a scoreless inning. Then we turned our clocks back to "Mountain Time" as the great Ben McDonald hilariously says from the booth, where Felix Bautista danced around a two-out single to secure his fifth save.
2. Game 2: Orioles 4, Nationals 0.
Another night in D.C., another shutout. The Orioles shut out the Nationals for the second straight night, 4-0, behind six scoreless innings from Bradish, another night of the Cano Show, and strong innings from Brian Baker and Mike Baumann. As Melanie Newman aptly pointed out, the last time the Orioles shut out their opponent in two consecutive games was in September 2022, when the starting pitchers were... drum roll please... Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish, against the Houston Astros.
As in Game 1, the Nationals' starter pitched well in Game 2. Lefthander MacKenzie Gore, part of the haul the Nationals received in exchange for Juan Soto last July, allowed only three runs over six innings and struck out seven. The Orioles' runs off Gore came on a bases-loaded walk to Adley Rutschman and a two-run blast by Adam Frazier, who initially did not start the game but replaced Jorge Mateo after Mateo left due to right hip discomfort. The Orioles tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning on Gunnar Henderson's RBI single to right and again, the Orioles' bullpen preserved the shutout.
There was a lot to love about this series. Great starting pitching from two starters in Kremer and Bradish who the Orioles are counting on. More of the "Cano Show," as the right-hander has now thrown 4.1 innings of perfect baseball. And strong outings from Bautista, Baker, Baumann, and Danny Coulombe. And, for the first time since 1995, the Orioles swept a series by shutting out their opponent in each win. The Orioles will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before welcoming the Tigers for a three-game series starting Friday, April 21 at Camden Yards.
As the Cano Show continues its cross-country tour, make sure to get your tickets while supplies last!