Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Orioles come down the Parkway for the weekend interleague series.
Perhaps they brought this upon themselves with that five-game losing streak, putting added pressure on each subsequent game, but it's a fact. The Nats really need to play good baseball this weekend against an Orioles club that is in disarray. Two out of three is a must, if only to ensure their record remains above .500 heading into a tough West Coast swing to San Francisco and San Diego (plus Houston) next week.
Scott Olsen is on the mound tonight, hoping to extend his surprisingly dominant run. Perhaps his teammates will supply him with some run support for a change. He hasn't received a decision in his last three starts, despite giving up a total of four earned runs in the process.
Interesting lineup twist for Jim Riggleman: Slumping Nyjer Morgan is on the bench. Roger Bernadina's in center field, with Willie Harris in right.
Check back for updates throughout...
ORIOLES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD, MASN2-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM, WTEM-980 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF
RF Willie Harris
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
P Scott Olsen
LF Corey Patterson
2B Ty Wigginton
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
1B Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Craig Tatum
SS Cesar Izturis
P David Hernandez
7:07 p.m. -- We are underway with a first-pitch flyout to center from Corey Patterson. Lot of empty seats here. Lot of orange among those who are here.
7:12 p.m. -- A nice, efficient first inning from Scott Olsen, who has made a real habit out of this. Twelve pitches, 10 strikes. And that included a two-out single by Nick Markakis.
7:24 p.m. -- Olsen has thrown two pitches in the second inning ... and allowed two runs. Luke Scott led off with a single to right. Adam Jones followed by blasting a high 85 mph pitch from Olsen over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center, putting the O's on top 2-0 and stunning the home portion of the crowd.
7:40 p.m. -- Not much doing for the Nats offense so far. Through two innings, only Josh Willingham has reached (on a walk). David Hernandez (0-5 with a 5.84 ERA, by the way) made Pudge look silly with an 0-2 slider over the heart of the plate. Nats still trail 2-0 after two.
7:46 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman has been having some throwing troubles for the last week or so. It hasn't resulted in many actual errors, but he's not been as sharp as we've become accustomed. Twice in a span of three batters in the third, he made poor throws to first. Dunn saved him on one and tagged Wigginton. The other (on a barehand play) turned into a wild throw well past Dunn, but Miguel Tejada would have beaten it out anyway, so he was credited with a hit.
7:56 p.m. -- This is not the Scott Olsen we've come to expect. He walked two batters in the third, loading the bases in the process, then fell behind some guy named Craig Tatum 2-1 and watched as the Orioles' backup catcher grounded a two-run single up the middle. Baltimore leads 4-0 and Miguel Batista is warming in the Nats bullpen.
8:02 p.m. -- In his last three starts, Olsen walked a total of three batters. In a span of four batters in the third inning tonight, he walked three.
8:06 p.m. -- How about this surprise development: Scott Olsen is out of the game after three innings. The man pinch-hitting for him: Livan Hernandez. Olsen's final line: 3 ip, 6 h, 4 r, 3 bb, 1 k, 64 pitches, 41 strikes.
8:13 p.m. -- It's perhaps not surprising that we just learned Scott Olsen left tonight's game with tightness in his left shoulder. Had to figure something wasn't right.
8:36 p.m. -- The Nats do not have a hit in four innings against David Hernandez. What I mean to say is: David Hernandez is throwing a NO-HITTER through four innings.
8:55 p.m. -- Words you thought you'd never say: Thank god for Miguel Batista.
9:07 p.m. -- Batista has done a nice job putting out the fire and keeping this game manageable after Olsen's early departure. It's still 4-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth. By the way, the stands have filled up nicely, especially in the upper deck. Turned into a pretty good environment for a ballgame, with plenty of Orioles fans in attendance.
9:17 p.m. -- Well, they finally knocked Hernandez out of the game. The unheralded right-hander allowed one hit over 5 1/3 innings but walked Zimmerman and Dunn in succession in the sixth to end his night. Matt Albers now pitching for Baltimore.
9:29 p.m. -- Good news: The Nats scored a run finally. Bad news: They didn't do it via a base hit and managed to score only once despite loading the bases with one out. Orioles 4-1 through six.
9:35 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 27,378.
9:40 p.m. -- Look out, here we go. Nyjer Morgan comes off the bench and doubles down the left field line, and then Willie Harris hits a bomb off the facade of the second deck in right. Just like that, it's 4-3 in the seventh.
9:43 p.m. -- I know there are a lot of Miguel Batista haters out there, but what he did tonight is exactly the reason he's on this team. With four scoreless innings in relief of Olsen, Batista kept his team in the game and made this rally possible.
9:52 p.m. -- Drew Storen now pitching the eighth. Third career appearance. All have come in tight, late situations. Clearly, Jim Riggleman isn't afraid to put him out there.
10:02 p.m. -- The kid isn't perfect after all. After walking Tatum to lead off the inning, Storen surrendered a two-out single to Corey Patterson. Drew just learned what every big-league pitcher before him already knew: Those leadoff walks will kill you every time. Orioles 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
10:09 p.m. -- For what it's worth, the Orioles bullpen has blown eight of 16 save opportunities this season.
10:22 p.m. -- And we go to the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter, Harris and Guzman due up for the Nats. Alfredo Simon on the mound for the O's.
10:30 p.m. -- For the first time since April 15 (when they were 4-5), the Nationals are under .500. With this 5-3 loss, they've now dropped seven of their last eight. Blip on the radar screen, or the beginning of the end?