The Orioles completed their interleague schedule with a win today, running their record against the Nationals in the Battle of the Beltways to 4-2. The entire series featured, depending upon your perspective, fantastic pitching on both side or terrible hitting on both sides (in reality, it was some of both). Both teams scored just five runs over the three-game span, but it was the Orioles who came away with the series win.
Starting the game today was Jake Arrieta, who allowed one run in six innings pitched. He was far from perfect, but he was good enough to shut down the Nats offense. He allowed one base runner in each of the first two innings, then the Nationals scored their only run in the third.
Arrieta put the first two runners of the inning on base via a double and a hit by pitch, but then Bryce Harper grounded into a double play and it looked like he might get out of the inning unscathed. But Ryan Zimmerman came to the plate and lined a single to left field, knocking in Jhonatan Solano. Arrieta struck out Adam LaRoche to end the inning.
The Nationals went down 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth innings, then Arrieta found himself in little more trouble in the sixth inning. Harper led off with a bouncing single up the middle that just got past Brian Roberts. Harper was hustling all the way and turned was would have been a routine single into a double. Adam Jones fielded the ball quickly at second and threw it in to second base just a second too late. It was a pretty impressive play from Harper. After Zimmerman struck out, Arrieta fell behind on LaRoche and ended up intentionally walking him to put two runners on with just one out. But Arrieta retired the next two via strike out and pop up.
That ended Arrieta's day, and while he pitched well, it looked like he was going to end up being the hard luck loser. The Orioles had yet to score on the day, a scene O's fans have been getting used to.
Nats starter Ross Detwiler held the Orioles in check over his five innings pitched. He retired the side in order in the first two innings, and worked around a one-out single from Steve Tolleson in the third. But unfortunately in the fourth and fifth innings, the Orioles looked like they might rally only to fall short.
Singles from J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters put two runners on with one out in the fourth, then after Mark Reynolds struck out, Steve Pearce walked to load the bases. But DH Ronny Paulino flew out to end the inning. In the fifth, a one-out single from Robert Andino followed by a walk to Roberts again put two runners on, but the Orioles couldn't capitalize. It was really starting to look like it would be a 1-0 loss.
Once the game went to the bullpens, both teams continued to put up zeroes. But finally, finally, in the 8th inning, the Orioles got on the board. I happened to be listening to this game on the radio as I sat in gridlock traffic, waiting for an on-fire RV to get hauled off of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and when Adam Jones led off with a single I complained, "That's nice, Adam. You really needed to hit a homer. No one is going to knock you in!" In my defense, traffic makes me really cranky.
Thankfully, Wieters didn't punish me for my lack of faith. Hitting from the right side, he launched a home run that landed in the Orioles bullpen. The relievers leaped into the air, trying to make the catch. The victor was side-armer Darren O'day. Yay! That gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead, although unfortunately they couldn't add to it.
Jim Johnson came in to close the game and he struggled with his command. He went to a 3-1 count to Michael Morse before getting the groundout, then he walked Ian Desmond. But Desmond helped us all out, as he took off for second base with a 1-2 count. JJ threw a change-up that Danny Espinosa swung through for strike three, and Wieters fired down to second base. Hardy applied the tag and the game was over.