BALTIMORE — The Orioles fell 3-2 to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Camden Yards in the second installment of a three-game set in the Battle of the Beltway.

Dylan Bundy got the start for the Orioles and labored through six innings, giving up just three earned runs while scattering 11 hits and striking out six. Bundy (3-7, 4.46ERA) was twice plagued by the long ball again, running his season total of home runs allowed to 14, tying him for third in home runs allowed among MLB starting pitchers.

Bryce Harper got the scoring started with a one out solo homer to right field in the top of the first inning. This was Harper’s National League-leading 17’th home run of the year and staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead. Manny Machado continued his torrid pace to start the season, answering the Harper home run by launching a solo shot to left field in the bottom of the first to tie things up at 1-1.  It was Machado’s 16’th home run of the season, tying him for fourth in the AL.

The Nationals pushed another run across in the top of the second inning when Wilmer Difo hit a two-out RBI single to break the tie, scoring former Orioles first basemen Mark Reynolds,who led off the inning with a single.

Reynolds wasn’t done for the night, as he added his 6’th home run of the season for the Nationals in the top of the fourth inning, extending the Washington lead to 3-1.  Reynolds has six homers and eight RBI in just 12 games since joining the Nationals.

Meanwhile, current Orioles first basemen Chris Davis continues to struggle as was well documented in Nolan McGraw’s piece last week. Davis, inexplicably batting cleanup last night despite coming in 4-46 in his last 50 plate appearances, responded accordingly going 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Buck Showalter
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s questionable lineup decision may have cost the Orioles in last night’s loss.

The decision to bat Davis cleanup by Orioles Manager Buck Showalter could have played a part in a key sequence in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Orioles attempted to start a rally off of former Baltimore starter Jeremy Hellickson.

After Joey Rickard struck out to open the inning, Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a Jace Peterson single. After a Jonathan Schoop fly-out to center, Adam Jones delivered a two-out double, plating Sisco. Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson decided to wave Peterson home on the play where he was cut down on a great relay from the Nationals to end the inning.

What looked like a questionable send on the surface, especially given the result, was likely the right decision for a team with just 23 runs scored in their last 10 games. Considering that the Nationals likely would have walked Machado with a base open and two outs to pitch to the aforementioned Davis, the decision to send Peterson looks even better.

Hellickson went just five innings for the Nationals giving up two earned runs and striking out three on the evening. He picked up his second win of the season for the Nationals in what was his eighth start. The Nationals’ bullpen slammed the door in the last four innings giving, up just three hits while striking out six. Sean Doolittle picked up the save for the Nationals, his 12’th of the season.

The two teams will conclude their three game set this evening at Camden Yards. David Hess (2-1, 4.15ERA) looks to pick up his second straight victory for the Orioles as he gets the ball for Baltimore. Washington will counter with Max Scherzer (8-1, 2.13) who is coming off a win against the Miami Marlins on May 25.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm on MASN and MASN2.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun