After last night’s rain out, the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles finally got their three game series started Tuesday night. Both teams have an outside chance of making the playoffs, so getting a win was important for both clubs. The Nationals had their chances against the Orioles, but the offense could not get critical hits when they needed to as the team lost to Baltimore, 4-1.
The Nationals had nine free base runners between walks by Orioles pitching and errors committed by the Orioles defense, but could not capitalize.
The loss was especially unfortunate because the Nationals lost an opportunity to gain another game on the Mets, who also lost to the Braves.
The Orioles scored first because Gonzalez got in trouble with walks. In the second inning, with one out, Gio walked Caleb Joseph and J.J. Hardy. Junior Lake hit a long fly ball to right field which was caught by Bryce Harper, but Joseph tagged up and went to third.
Gonzalez then allowed a single to pitcher Jimenez to drive in a run. Nolan Reimold singled in Hardy and both players that Gonzalez walked came around to score. The Orioles were up 2-0.
Ian Desmond started the bottom of the second drawing a walk, but was picked off first. This was unfortunate because Michael Taylor, hitting next, laid down a perfect bunt single that would have gotten Desmond to second with no problem. Taylor nearly got picked off first by Jimenez as well. Jimenez has a decent move to first base.
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The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. The Nats got a run due to sloppy defensive play by the Orioles. Clint Robinson started the inning with a fly ball to center that was dropped by Lake, with Robinson ending up on second. Ian Desmond reached on an infield single when Manny Machado threw the ball a little wide of the first baseman, with Robinson going to third.
Taylor popped out for the first out of the inning. Jose Lobaton reached on a fielder’s choice, and Desmond was safe at second on an error, with Robinson scoring. Gonzalez attempted to bunt, but did not get the ball far enough from the plate. The ball was pounced on by Orioles catcher Joseph, who threw Desmond out at third. Machado then threw to first to get Gio at first. The Nationals should have scored more runs with the comedy of defensive miscues by the O’s, but had to settle for one.
The Nationals gave the run right back in the top of the fifth and then some. After getting Nolan Reimold to strike out, Gonzalez allowed a single to Machado. Chris Davis doubled into the left field corner and Machado scored from first. Steve Pearce doubled into the left field corner and Davis scored. Gonzalez got Jonathan Schoop to strike out, and Matt Williams went to the bullpen. Gio was done after four and two-thirds innings. The Nats were behind 4-1.
Doug Fister got the last out of the top of the fifth inning, getting a strike out on Joseph. Fister pitched a perfect sixth inning as well. He got two outs in the seventh, and then was replaced by Matt Thornton who was brought in to face Davis, a left hander. Thornton got the job done, getting Davis to ground out.
Brad Brach came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh for the Orioles, finishing Jimenez’s outing. He also pitched a scoreless eighth. Casey Janssen pitched the eighth inning and did not allow a base runner. Blake Treinen pitched the top of the ninth.
The Orioles brought in Darren O’Day to close the game. He is practically unhittable, so the chance that the Nats were going to score three runs or more against O’Day was small. The Orioles defense provided another gift base runner in the top of the ninth when a fly ball by Taylor was dropped in the outfield, however the Nationals could not move him from first base.
Next Game: The Nationals play game two of their series with the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night at Nationals Park. Scheduled starters are Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.90 ERA) for Washington and Chris Tillman (9-11, 5.19 ERA) for Baltimore. Game time is 7:05 pm EST, broadcast on MASN and MASN2.