Orioles Sweep Out Nats in “MASN Baseball Classic”

Thanks to a double shutout sweep, the Baltimore Orioles now lead the all-time “Beltway Series” 53-39 over the Washington Nationals since the Montreal Expos relocated to the District in 2005.  Going forward, I’ll be referring to these matchups as the “MASN Baseball Classic (MBC).” 

The Orioles entered the series second in the majors with 94 runs in 16 games.  By contrast, the Nats 62 runs currently rank 27th in all of MLB.

Game 1: Orioles 1, Nats 0

In a score more befitting of a soccer match, the Orioles took game one of the MBC, 1-0.  The Orioles got a great pitching performance from Dean Kremer (6.2 innings, 4 hits, 6 K).  The Nationals left sixteen on base.

Josiah Gray matched up well with Kremer, but the difference was in the “bases on balls” category.  Gray issued four walks, while Kremer didn’t hand out any.  Each team struck out seven times, but the Orioles earned four walks.  Gray’s walk to Adam Frazier in the top of the fourth inning moved Ryan Mountcastle to second base.  Mountcastle scored on a single by Austin Hays for the lone run of the game. 

Gray logged his third consecutive good start since his rocky first game vs Atlanta when he surrendered three home runs.  But he’s not getting any run support.

Mason Thompson was solid again and didn’t give up a run in two innings of relief.  Erasmo Ramirez and Carl Edwards Jr. also did not allow a run in their lone innings of work.

Nats fall to 5-12.

Time of game: 2:34.

Attendance: 18,747.

Game 2: Orioles 4, Nats 0

In game two of the series, the Baltimore Orioles pitching continued to dominate the Nats even if Washington outhit the O’s for the series 11-9.  Baltimore’s pitchers got the key outs when needed and shut out the Nats for the second night in a row.

According to mlb.com, the Nats on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS) is .565 with runners in scoring position (RISP), ranking them 28 out of 30 in all of MLB.  Only the Tigers and Royals have a lower OPS/RISP. 

Nats lefty MacKenzie Gore got through six innings, giving up just three hits, and struck out seven.  But Gore walked four.  He walked one with the bases loaded and another freebie scored on a home run by Orioles RF Anthony Santander.  Gore continued to struggle mightily versus left-handed batters.  Adam Frazier’s home run in the top of the fourth inning for Baltimore was the latest example.

On this night, the Nats bullpen committee of Anthony Banda, Thad Ward, and Hobie Harris performed fine in relief, but Harris allowed a key insurance run for the Orioles in the top of the ninth inning.

Keibert Ruiz had a good night with three hits, which was half of the Nats total.  Stone Garrett continues to thrive.  Garrett had a hit and a defensive gem (glove/arm) in each game of the series.  However, Dominic Smith continued to struggle at the plate. So did CJ Abrams with three strikeouts and a throwing error.

Solid defense and adequate pitching overall continue to be the bright spots for the Nats.  But a trademark of bad teams is finding ways to lose a game 1-0 or 7-6. 

Nats fall to 5-13.

Time of game: 2:26.

Attendance: 22,598.

Next up for the Nats: After an off day on Thursday, they head for the frozen tundra of Target Field.  Game time temperatures are expected to be in the thirties on Friday and Saturday.  Good chance of snow flurries too. Not exactly therapeutic conditions for cold bats, but maybe some shock treatment is in order.

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