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Saturday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Nationals, 4:05

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The Nats struck first in the Battle of the Beltways. Which last-place team will gain the upper hand next?

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Orioles’ last win came six days ago.

Their last win before that was five days earlier.

And their last win before that was another five days earlier.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not liking this recent trend.

The Orioles’ freefall has been sudden and alarming, as freefalls tend to be. It was just over two weeks ago that the O’s were riding high on the wave of John Means’ no-hitter, with a chance to even their record to .500 with a victory. Instead, they have seemingly decided, “Well, we already got a cool, historic achievement out of the way this year, so let’s pack it up, guys.”

Even a visit to the last-place Nationals wasn’t enough to reverse the Birds’ skid, with a 4-2 loss in last night’s opener. This afternoon, they’ll try it again. Bruce Zimmermann is on the mound, making his first start since May 2, after which he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Still, Zimmermann was outstanding in a long-relief outing this past Sunday, holding the Yankees to one run in 5.2 innings in the Orioles’ most recent win, earning the starting assignment today.

He’ll go against longtime Orioles nemesis Jon Lester, who began his career 14-0 against the Birds in his first six years with the Red Sox. The O’s bounced back to hand Lester a 1-4 record in his next nine starts against them, but they haven’t faced him since 2014. The Orioles obviously aren’t the same team as they were in 2014, but Lester isn’t the same pitcher, either. Let’s see what happens today.

With no DH in an NL park, an O’s outfielder has to get squeezed out of the lineup. Yesterday it was Ryan Mountcastle, and today it’s Austin Hays, getting his first day off since he returned from the injured list on April 21.

Orioles lineup:

CF Cedric Mullins
SS Freddy Galvis
1B Trey Mancini
RF Anthony Santander
C Pedro Severino
3B Maikel Franco
LF Ryan Mountcastle
2B Pat Valaika
P Bruce Zimmermann

Nationals lineup:

SS Trea Turner
RF Juan Soto
1B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Starlin Castro
LF Kyle Schwarber
CF Josh Harrison
C Yan Gomes
2B Jordy Mercer
P Jon Lester