While most – if not all – previous meetings between the
Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals haven’t had much
significance, this year’s Beltway series has all the makings of a
With both teams surprisingly very much in contention, the Adam
Jones-led Orioles open a three-game set with the Nationals looking
to extend their longest road winning streak in 13 seasons Friday
After 14 consecutive losing campaigns, Baltimore (25-14) enters
the weekend atop the AL East thanks in large part to an impressive
power display. The Orioles have belted a major league-leading 61
homers – equaling their total through 62 games in 2011.
Washington (23-15), which finished third in the NL East last
year after coming in fourth or fifth in each of the previous eight
seasons, has also been formidable. Leading the majors with a 2.94
ERA, the Nationals have held on to the division lead for much of
the season but currently sit one-half game behind Atlanta.
“As far as the Orioles go, both teams are climbing and still
getting better,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman told
MLB.com. “In previous years, it was tough to be a Nationals fan and
an Orioles fan, so it’s nice to see both teams winning, and people
in this area rooting for them.”
The Nationals and Orioles split six games in 2011, with each
club taking two of three at home. Baltimore, 25-26 all-time in this
series, hasn’t experienced much road success against the NL of
late, dropping 15 of 21.
“The bottom line is, if it’s important to our fans, it’s
important to us,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Initially,
we are just busy trying to prepare three starting pitchers to play
“We all know, this type of thing, that it’s obviously advantage
to the National League team, they’ve got people (that) are going to
be asked in our ballpark to do what they do all the time. But they
are asking a lot of people (on our club) to do something they
haven’t done before, and I don’t think it’s particularly fair.”
Coming off their third straight win overall and a two-game sweep
at Kansas City, the Orioles have won seven in a row in opposing
ballparks – their longest road winning streak since a 10-game run
Aug. 29-Sept. 24, 1999. Baltimore took Thursday’s series finale 5-3
behind six solid innings from Brian Matusz and Jones’ third homer
in as many days.
The center fielder has hit seven of his team-leading 13 homers
over his last 13 games.
“Jones is having a great year and we’re proud of him,” Showalter
added. “He doesn’t ever give in. You always feel that if he
struggles, somebody is going to pay down the line. He’s a very
competitive young man.”
Batting .389 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 24 career games
against Washington, Jones is 3 for 14 with one home run against
Nationals scheduled starter Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.71 ERA).
Jackson, who’s gone 0-1 with a 4.25 ERA over his last five
starts, yielded three runs and five hits over five innings of
Sunday’s 9-6 walk-off loss at Cincinnati.
The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA in his last eight
outings versus the Orioles, the most recent of which came while
with the Chicago White Sox in August 2010.
Jackson will be opposed by Jake Arrieta (2-4, 5.21), who’s gone
1-4 over his last five outings. Aside from throwing eight innings
of five-hit ball during a 5-0 victory at Yankee Stadium on May 2,
Arrieta has compiled a 9.90 ERA over those other four starts.
The right-hander surrendered a season-worst seven runs and a
career-high 10 hits over just 3 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 9-8 loss to
“Really the only thing I take away from it is, just I got to get
the ball down,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta has struggled against Washington, giving up a combined
12 runs over two starts spanning just eight innings.
The Nationals lost 5-3 to Pittsburgh on Thursday, splitting a
two-game set. Washington hasn’t dropped back-to-back home games
since Sept. 16-17.