Nationals 9, Orioles 3: Taking it on the Chen

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles is called out on strikes in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals during interleague play at Nationals Park.

The Orioles lost the final game of their series in DC today, 9-3. They actually had a 3-0 lead against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals after two innings, and I dared to imagine a sweep. But unfortunately the O's starter, Wei-Yin Chen, wasn't on his game today. He wasn't able to hold the lead and the Orioles weren't able to score again against Starsburg or the Nats bullpen. Still, it was a good series in DC in which the Orioles took two out of three and maintained their two-game lead on the Rays for first place in the A.L. East.

Xavier Avery continued his impressive start with a lead off single against Strasburg, and he came around to score two batters later on a single by Nick Markakis, giving the O's a 1-0 lead. After an effective but inefficient first inning by Chen (23 pitches thrown), the Orioles added two more in the second inning.

Wilson Betemit led off the second inning and hit a fly ball towards left field. It looked like Tyler Moore would make the catch but center fielder Bryce Harper cut in front of him and dropped the ball. Oops! Betemit ended up at second base. Chris Davis hit an infield single, then Betemit scored the Orioles second run on a ground out by Robert Andino. Strasburg, not looking much like Strasburg, walked Luis Exposito, then struck out Chen (pitchers batting! woo!). But never fear, Xavery is here! Avery lined his second hit against Strasburg in as many innings to left field. Davis scored and Exposito ended up on third, which allowed Avery to steal his first big-league base with J.J. Hardy at the plate. But Hardy struck out to end the inning with two runners in scoring position.

Stephen Strasburg threw thirty-three pitches in the second inning, but after the Orioles left him off the hook with just the two runs, he settled in and looked like Strasburg from there on out. He didn't allow a runner in the third, fourth, or fifth innings and he struck out six of the nine batters he faced. That was pretty much what I was expecting from him for the entire game.

After being staked to a three-run lead, Chen fell apart. It began in the third inning with Strasburg, Danny Espinosa, and Harper singled, doubled, and tripled in order. That made the score 3-2, and when Harper came in to score on a ground out the game was tied. He continued to have troubles in the fourth inning, giving up back-to-back home runs to Jesus Flores (his first of the year) and Strasburg (the first of his career). Oh, Wei-Yin.

Chen gave up one more run in the fifth inning and was pulled from the game for Darren O'Day. Not a good day for Chen, hopefully he gets back on his game next time he takes the mound.

Although Strasburg took a dominant turn beginning in the third inning, the number of pitches he threw before that limited him to just five innings on the day. Down by just three runs with four innings to play, I thought that the O's might have a chance to come back with Strasburg out of the game. But the bats were cold against relievers Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Clippard, and Ryan Mattheus, and they couldn't score again.

After O'Day pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings, Dana Eveland came in to finish the game. He was not good, giving up three runs in the eighth inning. It was annoying but irrelevant.

Tomorrow the Orioles come home to face the Boston Red Sox for three games before finally having their first off day in weeks. I'm looking for the sweep. Gotta take advantage of playing those last-place team!

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