Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Orioles (9/21-9/23)

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After losing the first game of their four game series against the Miami Marlins, the Washington Nationals (78-71) managed to take the final three games to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. While the tragic number is at eight games, the Nats are six games behind the New York Mets in the NL East with 13 to go and the two teams still play a three game series at Citi Field to end the year.

The Nats’ offense, which has scored the most runs of any team this month, put up 23 runs in the final three games against Miami. The highlight of this series occurred on Friday when Max Scherzer told Matt Williams he wanted to keep the ball in a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning. Then, Jose Lobaton was able to hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the tenth to give the Nats a 5-4 win.

More from Max Scherzer

Tonight, the Nationals try to keep their win streak going when they play round two of the Beltway Series against the Baltimore Orioles (73-76). In round one at Camden Yards, the Nats took two out of three games from July 10-12, which was the last series for both teams until the All-Star Break. However, since the All-Star Break, Buck Showalter’s squad is 29-32 and is currently 5.5 games behind the Astros for the second wild card spot in the American League. On offense, the O’s have hit 90 home runs since the break, which is second in the AL (Toronto has 95).

In his last 61 games, first baseman Chris Davis (.264, 43 HR, 109 RBI’s) is hitting .305 with 24 home runs and 57 RBI’s. Davis is ending the year strong and he will be a free agent at the end of the season. The other two players with double-digit home runs for Baltimore since the All-Star Game are Adam Jones and Manny Machado.

The main problem for the O’s has been their starting pitching. This season, the O’s rotation has a 4.64 ERA, which is the second highest in the AL (Tigers are the worst at 4.86). While the starters have struggled, the bullpen’s team ERA of 3.13 is the second lowest in the AL (Kansas City leads at 2.72). If the Orioles have a lead going into the 9th, they will turn to All-Star closer Zach Britton, who is 34-for-38 in saves. Plus, don’t underestimate another All-Star, Darren O’Day, who has a 1.52 ERA in 62 appearances this year.

Let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the three pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup