Once again, Baltimore asserted its dominance over Washington as the Orioles took three of the four games in the Battle of the Beltways thanks to a 2-0 victory in the series finale.
The Orioles won both series last year against the Nationals, and while the Redskins managed a stunning comeback against the injury-riddled Ravens at FedEx Field back in December, we all know that Ray Lewis and Co. enjoyed the last laugh in New Orleans.
Starting pitching was once again an issue for the Orioles in this series, but they were able to overcome it thanks to their relentless lineup. The Orioles came back from a 6-2 deficit in the 7th inning of the third game to grab a 9-6 victory, tilting the series in their favor.
There are so few holes in the lineup, and there is hardly ever a chance for the pitcher to take a breather and not have to worry about the guy at the plate driving the ball out of the ballpark. Chris Davis continues to have the best offensive season in all of baseball, but he’s getting a lot of help from guys like Adam Jones, Manny Machado and more. The Orioles are right at the top of the league in terms of home runs, runs scored and steals, making them extremely difficult for opposing pitchers.
However, it’s not all bad on the pitching front in Baltimore. Jason Hammel turned in his best start of the season to give the Orioles a victory in the series opener, and he has looked much more like the 2012 version in his past two starts. The control has been much better, he is keeping the ball on the ground and pitching deeper into the game.
Freddy Garcia was terrific in the finale, throwing eight innings of shutout ball. Chris Tillman gave up a number of home runs in his outing, but didn’t really pitch that poorly. Keeping the ball in the ballpark is something that he will have to continue to try and improve upon.
The bullpen also steadied itself after a number of blown saves in the past two weeks. Jim Johnson looked much better closing out Game 3, and it appears that the Orioles may have found a key piece to their bullpen going forward in Steve Johnson. The right-hander has been a part of two victories in the past week and may have found a permanent home in the Baltimore bullpen. Tommy Hunter has emerged as one of the most reliable arms in the pen, and his ability to pitch multiple innings like Johnson gives Buck Showalter more flexibility.
As Showalter likes to say, it’s time to move on and the next challenge is right around the corner. The Detroit Tigers head to Baltimore with Justin Verlander scheduled to pitch Saturday. It will be a matchup of two of the top teams in the American League in both the standings and run production. It will feature a showdown of MVP candidates Miguel Cabrera and Davis, and the weekend series is expected to draw near sellout crowds for all three games.