Game 53: Nationals (27-25) @ Orioles (28-24), 7:05

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There's nothing to cleanse the palate after a bitter loss like going up against a starting pitcher with a 1.71 ERA the very next night. Wait, is this for real? Yes, it is: Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann brings an 8-2 record along with that ERA to Camden Yards tonight. He is averaging over seven innings per start and has three complete games.

The Orioles have had five starts of 7 IP or more all season. Zimmermann's last six starts were all for seven innings or longer. He's only allowed more than two runs in one start all season, only went fewer than six innings once. He's nine out of ten on quality starts. Is that .235 BABIP a sign of pending regression? His 2.79 FIP, even if it was his ERA, would still have him in the Cy Young hunt. He walks next to no one and gets ground balls more than half the time. That'll keep the ERA low, for sure.

Then there's Chris Tillman, starting for the Orioles tonight. He's given up two home runs in three of his last four starts, though thanks to his offense he has a 2-1 record in those games. Can't really count on the offense against a pitcher performing like Zimmermann is this year. And even a bad Nats lineup will hit home runs off a struggling pitcher, as poor Kevin Gausman can attest from last night. They will soar out of there. Some nights you can sneeze and a ball will carry out of Camden Yards. One of the warmest days of the year so far may be one of those nights, which could be poor for Tillman.

It is the starting rotation that is the continuing problem for this O's team. We all know this even as we hold our breath every night. Perhaps the short outings have piled up too many innings on a bullpen that was already due to regress based on last year. Perhaps they would have not been any good anyway, and it's just that the starters are going fewer innings, so more struggling guys have to throw more innings. Sometimes Tillman looks like he will end up being the lone member of "the cavalry" to pitch at the MLB level with some success. Other times... it isn't pretty.

Which Tillman tonight? I don't know, man.

It's Crush Davis t-shirt giveaway night. They are surely already gone by the time you read these words. Sorry. Maybe Davis will hit a home run to ease the pain for everyone who didn't get a shirt. Did you know he's on pace to hit 53 home runs? Holy crap.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Nate McLouth - LF Denard Span - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Roger Bernadina - RF
Nick Markakis - RF Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
Adam Jones - CF Adam LaRoche - 1B
Chris Davis - 1B Ian Desmond - SS
Matt Wieters - C Tyler Moore - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS Chad Tracy - DH
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Kurt Suzuki - C
Steve Pearce - DH Danny Espinosa - 2B

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