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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where it’s “regional rivalry” time

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The Orioles and Nationals square off in an interleague series that matters to only one of the teams. Plus, news on Hanser Alberto, Ryan Mountcastle, and Adam Jones.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

If you’ve been reflecting on the Orioles’ season so far and found yourself thinking, “The one thing I’d like to see is O’s pitchers bat again,” you’re in luck! Tonight they begin their final series in a National League park this year, a two-gamer in their interleague regional rivalry against Washington.

For the first 12 years or so after the Nationals franchise arrived in D.C., the O’s and Nats followed similar paths. Neither club had any winning seasons from 2005-2011, then both found success at the same time, with each finishing .500 or better every year from 2012-2016. During that span, they even made the postseason in the same years as each other: 2012, 2014, and 2016.

Since 2017, though, the two teams’ roads have diverged. The Nationals stayed good, making the playoffs again in 2017 (and, for the fourth time, losing in the Division Series). The O’s...did not stay good. And now the Nationals are in playoff position again, well in front for the first wild card spot. The Birds, meanwhile, have nothing riding on this series except the possibility of playing spoiler.

Maybe the Orioles will manage to make life a tiny bit more difficult for their neighbors to the south. It would certainly add a bit of fuel to an otherwise lukewarm rivalry.

Links

Five Orioles storylines to watch in the season’s final five weeks - BaltimoreBaseball.com
The O’s may be bad, but they have some things worth keeping an eye on as the schedule winds down, including Chris Davis’ diminishing role, John Means’ Rookie of the Year case, and the race for the No. 1 pick in 2020.

Alberto gaining appeal on trade market - School of Roch
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Hanser Alberto experience this year. But if the O’s can trade him and get something of value, that’s a deal they have to make.

Inbox: Will Mountcastle be up in September? - Orioles.com
Joe Trezza responds to questions from readers, and his answer to the headline question is: probably not. I tend to agree, as much as I’d like to see Mountcastle in the majors this year.

A look at the future of pitching development for the Orioles - Steve Melewski
Melewski chats with new Shorebirds pitching coach Justin Ramsey, who seems to be a pretty bright and analytical guy. No wonder Delmarva’s pitching staff has been so awesome this year.

Adam Jones’ days as an everyday player are over and ‘that’s perfectly OK’ with him – The Athletic
If you’re wondering what the longtime O’s star is up to these days, well, his playing time has recently been cut with the Diamondbacks. But he’s handling it with grace and class. He is, after all, Adam Jones.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have one O’s birthday buddy, and it’s fan favorite Jim Thome (49), who played only 28 games with the Birds but was a big ol’ teddy bear. The Orioles acquired him during the 2012 season to provide veteran leadership for their postseason-bound club, since winning was kind of new to them. Thome hit .257/.348/.396 with three home runs and 10 RBIs for the O’s to finish up his 22-year, Hall of Fame career.

On this day in 1961, the Orioles’ Milt Pappas not only threw a two-hit shutout of the Twins, but also hit two home runs in the game. Talk about doing it all yourself.

And on this date in 1973, the Orioles extended their winning streak to 14 games, which was (and still is) the longest in O’s history. Mike Cuellar got the victory, his fourth of the winning streak, with a complete game against the Rangers. Jim Palmer and Dave McNally each won three games during the streak, in which the O’s outscored their opponents 87-35. Don Baylor, who started eight of the games, batted .455 with a 1.392 OPS, three homers, and seven RBIs. Earl Williams drove in 13 runs and Merv Rettenmund 11.