Game 68: Orioles 2, Nationals 1


Well, not even a one-hour rain delay could slow down Baltimore Orioles’ ace Jason Hammel in a game where Nationals hitting proved inconsistent once again in this ever-enticing 2012 campaign.

In the fourth episode of the Battle of the Beltway series and first at Camden Yards, the O’s (40-30) downed the Nats (40-28) by a score of 2-1 on Friday night.  Hammel (9-2) earned the win, Jordan Zimmermann (3-6) the loss, and Jim Johnson his 21st save of the season.  The Nats are now 1-3 against the Orioles this year after surrendering two of three matchups played in late May at Nationals Park.  Interestingly enough, all three wins by the O’s have come by one run.

Entering the game off a one hit shut-out in Atlanta last weekend, Mr. Hammel picked up right where he left off, going 8 strong innings whilst allowing only 5 hits, 0 earned runs, and racking up a career-tying 10 strikeouts against a simply baffled Nats lineup.  The Nationals remained close due to a Mark Reynolds error that was able to score shortstop Ian Desmond in the 5th from first base.  However, the Nats couldn’t do much else and Hammel would cruise to his 9th win of the season.

Despite the fact tonight was indeed the Hammel Show, Zimmermann pitched relatively well in yet another outing where he received no run support whatsoever.  Fun, yet frustrating fact: Nats hitting hasn’t been able to muster more than three runs in any Zimmermann loss this season.  To begin the game, the O’s charged quickly ahead 1-0 in the 2nd when Reynolds hit a solo bomb off a miscued high-and-in fastball.  While Zimmermann then settled down for a few innings, the home team struck again in the 5th when J.J. Hardy hit an RBI double to score former Nat first baseman Nick Johnson.  Although Zimmermann clearly did not have his best stuff working tonight, he would in the end only surrender these two runs and one walk in seven innings of work.  The Nats hope to take a few wins back to DC as interleague play draws to a close.

One thing’s for sure: regardless of weather the fans will certainly come to watch these two 40-win teams this weekend.  After drawing over 120,000 in the three game set played at Nationals Park only a few weeks ago, approximately 45,800 fought it out through the rain to see the Nats and O’s battle on Friday night.

Champ of the Game: Desmond, who seemed to be the only National to figure out Hammel.  He went 2-3 with the lone run and walk given up by Orioles pitching.

Although he only went 1-4, the O’s Hardy drove in a run and made an outstanding catch in the 7th to rob Jesus Flores of an RBI single that could have tied the game.

Chump of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman for the Nats, who is slumping like a tired man in a rocking chair.  Now batting a whopping .222 (for those keeping score, this is worse than Danny Espinosa), Zimmerman went 0-4 with a strikeout.

For the O’s, Chris Davis was the only one not to get on base for the home team.  This simple reason gives Davis the nod.

Next Game: Saturday, 7:15 PM, at Camden Yards.  Edwin Jackson (3-4, 3.02 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (7-2, 3.36 ERA).