If Jason Hammel were to somehow duplicate his complete game one-hitter from his last start, then it wouldn't matter that 75% of the Orioles hitters have sucked for the last few days. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
UPDATE 7:35pm: The game is expected to start at 8:00pm. The tarp is coming off the field now.
The answer to the Orioles' recent woes can be found in part in the lack of quality starting pitching from players who aren't named Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen. The other part can be found in this statistic, sitting on the Orioles game notes under the headline "Broken Bats": Matt Wieters, Nick Johnson and Wilson Betemit are a combined 9-19 and the other nine Orioles hitters are a combined 3-109. That is not a typo. Of the twelve hitters on the O's roster, if you combine the recent batting lines of a full 75% of them, what you get is a .028 batting average. That's a pretty good way to lose three straight games.
The O's cause might be helped if they get a strong start from their best pitcher, Hammel, who's making his 14th start of the year and 6th at Camden Yards. He's pitched 32 innings in those five games at Oriole Park and has a 2.53 ERA at home. That is good stuff. One key number for Hammel is that he has not lost a decision when recording seven or more strikeouts, which he has done in six games. Of course, he's coming off that complete game shutout one-hitter in Atlanta, the first such game of his career.
Coming out to pitch for the Nationals is Jordan Zimmermann, who has managed to pitch well this season in seemingly every game except for the two times I picked him in SB Nation's Pick 6 competition. The Nationals game notes sheet observes that the 25 year old from Auburndale, WI has gotten the worst run support (3.2 runs) while in the game of any Nats starter - a figure that's 6th-lowest among NL starting pitchers. Do his hitters have some kind of grudge against him? Could be another tough luck game for him, going up against Hammel. He's no slouch himself though, with the best ERA in interleague starts among pitchers with ten or more starts against the opposing league. That adds up to a 1.93 ERA in 65.1 interleague innings.
Don't assign any predictive value to that last statistic. I just think it's interesting to note the coincidence. What else are statistics for?
Last time these two teams met, it was the Orioles in first place and the Nats trying to catch up in their division. It's the other way around this time. They've ridden their rotation to the top. They have the best starter ERA, best starter K/9, and lowest starter HR/9. They also have some hitters on their team, like Bryce Harper the bro-nafide young star. I would tell you some interesting things about them if the Nationals game notes had provided me with any one single useful fact about any one of them. The Battle of the Beltways is about to resume on the field, but as far as PR outfits are concerned, the Orioles already have this one sewn up.
Our old friend Mike Gonzalez is on the Nats. If we get a chance to see him tonight, hopefully they will treat him the way he treated us when he first joined the Orioles.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||WASHINGTON NATIONALS|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Steve Lombardozzi - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Bryce Harper - CF|
|Chris Davis - RF||Ryan Zimmerman - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adam LaRoche - 1B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Michael Morse - DH|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Ian Desmond - SS|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Danny Espinosa - 2B|
|Nick Johnson - DH||Roger Bernadina - RF|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Jesus Flores - C|