After playing two of the hottest teams in the major leagues, there’s no real reprieve for the Washington Nationals.
Their next assignment comes against an improving Baltimore Orioles team. The local rivals meet for the first time this season Tuesday night in Baltimore.
The Nationals were swept by the Atlanta Braves and then lost the first four contests of a five-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies before Sunday’s 9-3 victory snapped an eight-game losing streak.
“Sometimes it’s hard, but we have to just forget about it, because you can’t control what’s going to happen,” Nationals third baseman Maikel Franco said. “Think about day to day, pitch to pitch, game to game. We had to try to stay locked in, stay positive, all the way down. Good results are going to happen.”
The Braves and Phillies are a combined 30-5 in June, so the schedule did the Nationals no favors last week.
But Washington manager Davey Martinez said his team has made too many mistakes regardless of the opponent.
“We’re making things hard for ourselves,” Martinez said.
The Orioles have won six of their last nine games. In their past two series, they’ve won two of three games against both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays.
While the Orioles have scored six or more runs six times in their last nine games, much of the success has been due to their actions in the field.
“We played great defense,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re solid. We’ve got a guy playing Gold Glove shortstop (with Jorge Mateo). In the outfield, three guys who can really, really run. … Defensively, it’s nice not to give extra outs and give ourselves a chance.”
The Orioles haven’t listed a starting pitcher for Tuesday, in part because of the committee approach that has worked well at times recently. Monday was the first day off after games on 11 consecutive days.
Members of the bullpen have been stellar for the Orioles, with Jorge Lopez particularly stingy. He has gone 12 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run.
“Make-up, toughness, stuff, grit,” Hyde said. “Guys are just kind of falling in. They’re pitching with a ton of confidence. We haven’t had that.”
In Baltimore’s last three victories, the pitching staff has surrendered a total of three runs.
Washington goes with right-hander Erick Fedde (4-5, 4.88 ERA) as its starting pitcher. The Nationals had won two in a row in which he started before last week’s loss to Atlanta.
Fedde has faced Baltimore twice, including in one start. He’s 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in the two meetings covering 11 1/3 innings.
The Nationals sent reliever Cory Abbott back to Triple-A following Sunday’s game.
Washington’s offense has received a spark from first baseman Josh Bell, who hit four home runs last week and has gone deep seven times this month.
The Nationals would like to see Juan Soto get untracked after his home run Sunday. He has only two hits across his last 23 at-bats.
“We’ve got to continue to get him going,” Martinez said. “You don’t see him ever in a slump.”
After this two-game interleague set, the teams will meet again in mid-September in Washington, D.C.
–Field Level Media