My mind is kind of still boggling over last night's result. How do you get 18 hits and only four runs? I hate to get all self-pitying, but honestly it's pretty hard being an Orioles fan sometimes and losses like last night's are a reminder why.
The Nationals have now won seven in a row and the Orioles have lost five of their last six games. Brian Matusz will be looking to turn things around for the O's. It's his fourth start of the season after having been sidelined for the first two months with an intercostal strain. In the first three starts he's looked like there was some rust to shake off, and strength still to be built back up. The most significant and worrying factor is the lost miles per hour on his fastball, which has been something like 3-4 mph below his average from last year. Maybe he was due for a couple more rehab starts before coming back up to the bigs.
In the time since we saw him last, today's Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann has thrown 27 innings and given up a total of four earned runs. That's an impressive stretch. He fairly well shut down the Orioles in last month's matchup at Camden Yards, taking the loss in a 2-1 game because he gave up a two-run blast to Vladimir Guerrero. On that day, the O's won the game despite getting only four hits. Every now and again these cagey old veteran players can take a young guy to school. It's easy to crack jokes about broken down old bodies, but guys like Guerrero have seen a lot of pitches in their careers and they do know a thing or two of how to succeed with the strength that's left to them. Naturally, since we're in an NL park, Guerrero won't be appearing today unless as a pinch-hitter - and hopefully not until late in the game, because the sooner Vlad bats, the worse Matusz has pitched.
In Vlad's absence, Matt Wieters is taking the cleanup duties again today. He would be hard-pressed to do any worse at it than he did last night, so on the bright side, there is mostly only room for improvement. J.J. Hardy had a nine-game hitting streak snapped last night, but maybe he can lead off the game with a home run and start a new one.
I'm not going to be able to watch today's game, and Stacey wasn't expecting to see it either. So if one of our other site writers wants to take a crack, have at it. Just make sure you say something so three of you don't write a recap and post them all.
|Orioles (B. Matusz - L) @ Nationals (J. Zimmermann - R)|