BALTIMORE — In the first of two rounds in the 2018 ‘Battle of the Beltways,’ the Washington Nationals swept the Baltimore Orioles in three games at Camden Yards, including 6-0 and 2-0 shutout wins in games 1 and 3.
The Nationals (32-22) exit Baltimore now in first place in a very competitive National League East division. Four teams in the NL East are above .500 and the top three teams (WSH, ATL, PHI) are within one game of each other. The Orioles (17-39) now sit 22 games behind the Boston Red Sox (39-17) for first place in the American League East. The O’s own the second-worst record in the majors behind the White Sox (16-37).
Game 1 (6-0 WSH): Gio Gonzalez put together his best performance of the 2018 season, tossing a 7.2-inning gem where he limited the Orioles to six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Gonzalez left his outing with a 6-2 record and a 2.10 ERA, the second-lowest mark among National League starting pitchers.
Alex Cobb didn’t look too shabby either, but the Orioles offense gave him no run support in his seven-inning start. Cobb allowed three of Washington’s six runs off Anthony Rendon‘s three-run home run in the third inning. Cobb went seven innings, walking three with five hits allowed and three strikeouts. Despite the quality start, Cobb fell to 1-7 on the season.
After four straight appearances without allowing a run, Richard Bleier struggled, as the Nationals scored three runs off singles by Matt Adams (Rendon scored), Michael A. Taylor (Adams) and Wilmer Difo (Juan Soto). Bleier only mustered two outs before Miguel Castro took care of the final four outs with two strikeouts and one walk allowed.
Game 3 (2-0 WSH): Eight shutout innings (111 pitches), two hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts was the line for Max Scherzer against an ice-cold Orioles offense that has now scored three runs or less in 14 of their last 15 games. Scherzer made quick work of the Baltimore lineup, tossing six 1-2-3 innings.
In the top of the third, Harper crushed his NL-leading 18th home run off David Hess, making his fourth Major League start. Hess made it through six innings, allowing one run on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. In the seventh inning off Castro, Soto plated Washington’s second run on an RBI single that brought home Difo.
In the ninth inning off closer Sean Doolittle, the Orioles had runners on first and second with no outs. With Manny Machado at the plate, Craig Gentry, the lead runner, attempted to steal third but got caught in a rundown for the first out of the inning. Then Machado and Jonathan Schoop both flew out to end the game. It happened so quickly, but it was a perfect example of how the 2018 season is going for the Orioles.
The second act of the ‘Battle of the Beltways’ takes place Jul. 19-21 in Washington.
Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press