It was supposed to be a good day in D.C. with the Capitals battling the Penguins in game 7 and the Wizards in Boston to face the Celtics for game 5. Nationals park was relatively empty as the Nationals battled with their cross town rivals the Baltimore Orioles. Only the Nationals prevented this day from being a disaster.
The Capitals could muster no offense in losing to the Penguins to continue their disappointing playoff appearances. The Wizards played no defense in getting spanked by Boston and now face elimination in their NBA playoff series. At the same time the Orioles were controlling the game against the Nationals until the ninth inning.
Stephen Strasburg struggled early. He got the strikeouts with nine in six innings of work but a rough second inning did him in. He hit Jonathan Schoop to start the inning. J.J. Hardy rifled a single into right field. Caleb Joseph barely got his bat on the ball and blooped a hit over the head of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman to drive in the first run. With runners on first and third Wade Miley laid down a bunt for a base hit to load the bases. The Nationals were not expecting the bunt, playing the infield back. Seth Smith drove a pitch deep into centerfield. Michael Taylor caught it at the fence and Nationals fans breathed a sigh of relief as only one run scored instead of four. Adam Jones slapped a single into right field to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth the Nationals rallied for a run after two were out. Anthony Rendon walked. Matt Wieters began his torment of the Orioles with his second hit of the day, a single to right center. Michael Taylor got his first of two clutch hits lining a single into left field. In his first at bat he struck out with runners on first and third and one out.
The Orioles did the Nationals one better after Strasburg retired the first two hitters. Chris Davis lined a single up the middle. Mark Trumbo put an end to his power outage by almost reaching the Red Porch bar in center field with a shot that easily cleared the left field bull pen to give the Orioles a 5-1 lead.
In the bottom frame the Nationals pecked back, loading the bases with no out on singles by Trea Turner and Bryce Harper with a walk sandwiched in between by Jayson Werth. They could only salvage one in the inning after Ryan Zimmerman struck out and Daniel Murphy barely beat a throw to first on what was almost a double play ground out. Turner scored to make it 5-2.
Blake Treinen came on to pitch the seventh. The Nationals bullpen has given up more homeruns than any other bullpen in the National League. After retiring the first two hitters Treinen continued that trend grooming a pitch to Manny Machado who stroked it into the left field bleachers for a solo shot. The Orioles appeared to have a commanding 6-2 lead.
Michael Taylor whittled into that lead. Daniel Murphy started the inning with a single. Alec Asher came on to strike out the first two hitters he faced. Michael Taylor did not take long in his at bat, flicking his wrists on Asher’s first pitch and lining a drive into the left field bleachers to pull the Nationals to within 6-4.
The Orioles went with Brad Brach in the ninth with their closer Zach Britton on the disabled list. Jayson Werth ran the count full and then poked one into right field that barely landed into the bleachers for a solo shot. Bryce Harper also went the other way by slicing a double into left field. Ryan Zimmerman had an opportunity for a walk off, something he has not done in awhile, but he grounded to the pitcher. After throwing three balls to Daniel Murphy the O’s put him on with an intentional walk on the fourth pitch. Anthony Rendon lined a single into centerfield to load the bases with one out. Matt Wieters swung at the first pitch from Brach and lined one the other way, past the glove of Chris Davis and into right field for a base hit to score two and give the Nationals the 7-6 win. Wieters was mobbed at first base.
Game Notes: The Orioles now know how the Nationals felt after their bullpen blew a lead the previous day. The Orioles are struggling to find a closer after an injury to Zach Britton could keep him off the field for a couple months…The attendance was listed as 32,984, a small crowd considering this was an Orioles game. The Penguins and Celtics playoff matches could not have had that big an influence on advanced ticket sales…Michael Taylor did strike out in the second inning with runners on first and third and one out. He made up for it in two of his next three at bats with clutch two out hits…Bryce Harper swings and misses at too many fastballs…Ryan Zimmerman had a rough night going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and a ground into double play. He was robbed of a hit in the first inning when J.J. Hardy made a leaping catch on his line drive. He is 1 for 14 in the first three games of this series, dropping his average below .400…Hyun-Soo Kim is not hitting for a lot of power, which could limit his playing time in left field. With no DH spot available Seth Smith got the start with Kim slugging only .311. Kim got an opportunity to pinch hit but struck out in his one at bat against Strasburg…The loss ended a six game winning streak by the Orioles…Matt Albers, another former Oriole struck out the side in the top of the ninth.