WASHINGTON, D.C — After salvaging a win over the Marlins on Sunday, the Orioles (20-50) made a trip down the beltway to face the Washington Nationals (38-32). When these teams met back in late May, the Nationals walked away with a sweep. The O’s interleague rival picked up where they left off and won Tuesday’s series opener 9-7 thanks to some timely offense. The win also secured the Nationals first season series victory over the O’s since 2007.
The Orioles got shutout twice in that previous series but came out of the gates on Tuesday looking to makeup for it. Thanks to a pair of two-run homers by Jace Peterson and Trey Mancini, the O’s were able to take a 4-1 lead in the fourth. The Birds added a fifth in the following inning by taking what Nationals starter Jefry Rodriguez was giving them.
Rodriguez, who was making his first major league start, wasn’t finding much success early on. He completely lost control in the fifth by walking David Hess and Peterson to start the inning. Rodriguez could not get settled in after this and proceeded to hit Adam Jones in the next at bat to load the bases.
The Orioles should have gotten more out of this situation, but Manny Machado grounded into a double play. The at bat managed to bring Hess home but it also quickly put an end to a potentially big inning. As the game progressed, this developed into an even bigger missed opportunity.
Hess was stout early on in his start and looked like he was on his way to a quality start. However, the 24-year-old rookie ended up falling apart in the fifth. Just like Rodriguez did in the top of the fifth, Hess opened the inning by loading the bases. Hess had a little breathing room to work with, but that was erased fairly quickly after giving up a two-RBI single to Adam Eaton.
The O’s offense didn’t waste any time getting the lead back in the sixth but once again there was a big missed opportunity as Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with a triple. Later in the inning Mancini hit a ground ball back to the mound and Schoop got caught in a rundown. The Orioles loaded the bases once again but only managed to push one run across with a fielder’s choice.
This slim lead would not last long in the hands of the O’s inconsistent bullpen. Tanner Scott entered the game to pitch the seventh but the Nationals batters continued to dominate at the plate. A two-RBI double by Rendon gave Washington the lead once again and they would continue to pile on runs after chasing Scott out of the game. Mike Wright was brought in to try to put out the fire but that didn’t go over well. Wright doesn’t often find himself in these high leverage situations, and for good reason.
As you might expect, Wright was not able to escape the inning without giving up two additional runs. One was credited to Scott but it doesn’t really matter as both relievers failed to maintain the lead the offense had given them.
The O’s went into the final two innings down 9-6 and that was just too much for the offense to overcome. Joey Rickard‘s solo homer made it a 9-7 game in the ninth, but that was all the offense could muster. Nationals closer Sean Doolittle recovered from the mistake and managed to finish off the inning for his 19th save of the year.
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