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Nats head up the road to face Orioles in Baltimore


Nats head up the road to face Orioles in Baltimore

Whatever you want to call it: the 'Battle of the Beltways,' the 'Beltway Series,' or something else; the annual season series between the Nationals and Orioles is always a fun one for baseball fans in the area.

Sometimes the matchups disappoint, of course, but lately both teams have been among the best in their respective leagues. Both have formed perennial contenders largely built from within and each feature a nice crop of household names in the game of baseball.

The regional rivalry continues this weekend, as the Orioles host the Nats in a three-game series at Camden Yards in Baltimore. They will also see each other late in the year on Sept. 21-23 in Washington.

This particular series will send both teams into the All-Star break, and right now each could use a respite. The Orioles have lost eight of 10 and just got swept by the Twins. The Nationals have dropped five of their last eight and are currently missing a long list of regulars due to injury.

The Nationals will be without Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Stephen Strasburg this weekend. Denard Span is almost certainly out as well, and Yunel Escobar's status is up in the air. They will, however, catch a break by missing the Orioles' best pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, with the right-hander having pitched on Thursday.

The Nats will instead see Chris Tillman, who has really struggled this year at 6-7 with a 5.57 ERA, Miguel Gonzalez (7-5, 3.87) and lefty Wei-Yin Chen (4-4, 2.82). The Nats have yet to announce their full rotation for the weekend, though Gio Gonzalez will start the series-opener.

The Nats and Orioles have been playing each season going back to 2006. This is the 10th year of their annual matchup. So far they have played exactly 50 times, with the Orioles holding a 29-21 edge. Based on run differential, the series has been much closer with the Orioles leading by only six runs overall (213-207). But at Camden Yards, the O's have enjoyed a significant advantage at 16-9 in 25 total games.

The Nationals earned a split at Oriole Park last year, winning one of two games there. In the previous six seasons, however, they went 4-13 in Baltimore.

Whether there is a true rivalry between the teams has become a never-ending debate, but there does seem to be more animosity towards the visitors when the Nats go to Baltimore, as opposed to when the O's travel south.

It was a raucous scene, for instance, the last time the Nationals played in Charm City, on July 10 of 2014. Jayson Werth recorded the final out on a groundball to shortstop J.J. Hardy as the 30,417 in attendance chanted the always-original phrase 'Werth-less.' That moment came after Orioles manager Buck Showalter was caught on camera yelling to Werth to 'get in the ****ing box' during a brief ninth-inning delay after Werth fouled a pitch off of his left foot.

That was probably the most tension we have seen between the two teams, at least on the field. With the two stadiums so close to each other, there will naturally be some arguments in the crowd between fans, especially after a few Natty Bohs are consumed.

We'll see if that carries over to their latest meeting, which takes place Friday night.


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Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field


Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.

The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.

Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.

The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.

Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.

The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.

Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.

Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.

The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.


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Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.


Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.


Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.