The Orioles are on a roll. They earned their fifth win in seven games, beating the Nationals 2-0 in Washington D.C. on Tuesday night. The O’s pitchers stole the show by shutting down one of the hottest offenses in the league while the Birds bats struck early.
Aaron Brooks gets a lot of (deserved) criticism for what has largely been an underwhelming tenure with the Orioles organization. Coming into Tuesday night’s action, the righty owned an 8.07 ERA, 58 ERA+ and 1.732 WHIP in 32.1 innings with the team, and yet he has continued to get opportunities on the mound because he is, in fact, their best available option. And after his effort in this game, he is likely to continue getting more chances.
Brooks looked downright good against one of baseball’s best hitting teams. In six innings of work, the 29-year-old allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out six batters and keeping the Nationals off of the scoreboard entirely. This was a lineup that had not scored less than seven runs in the last week, but Brooks shut them down and lowered his O’s ERA to 5.79 in the process.
The only time that Washington even looked like scoring against Brooks came in the fourth inning. Anthony Rendon led off with a walk and moved to third two batters later on some aloof Orioles defending, which left the hot corner unoccupied on a fielder’s choice with the infield shifted. The O’s starter forced a pop-up a few pitches later to escape the jam.
For his part, Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin was no slouch, but he did have some trouble in the game’s opening frame. Lefty-killer Hanser Alberto smacked the first pitch of the night into center field for a single. Trey Mancini was then hit by a pitch moments later. Anthony Santander quickly cashed in, doubling to left field to bring home Alberto and advance Mancini to third. Jonathan Villar added to the advantage with a sacrifice fly, and Mancini crossed the plate. After one inning, the O’s led 2-0 over their regional “rivals.”
Beyond that, it was a dominating performance by Corbin. He would toss six more innings and allow just two baserunners, neither of which would go past first base. His final line looked like this: seven innings, two runs, four hits, no walks, nine strikeouts. He was impressive, but not as good as his Orioles counterpart.
It was not only Brooks who managed to keep the Washington bats quiet. Richard Bleier was the first arm out of the bullpen to help finish up the win. He retired his first two batters before allowing Victor Robles aboard with a single. Miguel Castro came to the rescue, inducing a ground ball off the bat of Yan Gomes and stranding Robles to end the inning.
The eighth inning was left to rookie flamethrower Hunter Harvey, whose hair is bad and you should feel bad if you like it. The former first-round pick relied heavily on the heater, which touched 99 mph several times, but did not seem to stifle the opposing hitters as it had in his previous outings.
A six-pitch at-bat against Trea Turner culminated with a triple down the left field line for the speedy shortstop that was made possible by a drastic shift by the O’s outfield. He was followed by Adam Eaton, who fouled off six Harvey fastballs before striking out on a nasty splitter down in the zone. That is when things got dicey.
The O’s rookie gave the heart of the Nationals order little to hit. He walked Rendon on five pitches and then issued a free pass to Juan Soto on just four offerings. It was a wise decision, but did put Harvey in a bases-loaded jam. However, it was nothing that the son of a former big leaguer couldn’t handle. He struck out the next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera (with the help of a generous called strike two), and escaped unscathed to earn his first major league hold.
That gave the ninth inning to Mychal Givens, who made short work of the bottom of the Washington lineup, setting them down in order and striking out two for his 11th save of the season and continuing his recent run of solid outings.
This type of game was unexpected from the O’s. The Nationals are one of the most talented teams in the league, and they are in the thick of the playoff race. But the Birds pitchers were up for the challenge and featured some impressive stuff. Even in a season as awful as this, the Orioles still manage to put together a game every now and then that makes you happy to watch this club day in and day out.
These two teams will meet up for the final time this season on Wednesday. If the Orioles win, they will take the season series. If the Nats win, then the two teams split the proverbial MASN Cup down the middle. Asher Wojciehowski (2-6, 4.67 ERA) will head to the bump for the Birds. He will be opposed by perennial Cy Young contender Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.41 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05.
Who was the Most Birdland Player on Tuesday, August 27, 2019?
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Aaron Brooks (W, 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 SO)
Hunter Harvey (got out of bases-loaded jam)
Mychal Givens (perfect ninth inning)
Hanser Alberto (two hits, one run)
Anthony Santander (double, RBI)