Ah, the Battle of the Beltway. There is nothing like a manufactured rivalry between regional teams to get your hackles up. At least, that’s how things were in the past. Both teams were abysmal on a continual basis, which made any kind of rivalry merely a sad competition between who would be the most pathetic that week. But this year, things were different. Both the Os and the Nats were sitting at the tops of their respective divisions (and near the tops of their leagues) when they met this year. A stunning occurrence. What had once been an opportunity for MASN to show the baseball game on two networks was actually meaningful!
Things did not start out well for the Nats. Edwin Jackson pitched a great game, but in the first inning, he walked Xavier Avery, allowed Nick Markakis to double (sending Avery to third), and when Adam Jones singled the Orioles scored, putting them up by 1.
Things stayed pretty quiet for a while – the score was 0-1 until the bottom of the sixth when Ian Desmond sent a homer over the left field wall to cheer up the Nats fans. This run gave us all a chance to breathe and hope that the game would turn out well for the Nationals.
But by the time we reached the bottom of the 9th, nothing more had happened. And this is not to blame the pitching. Jake Arrietta lasted 7 innings for the Orioles, and Edwin Jackson went 8 for the Nationals. Since I haven’t followed the Orioles other than seeing final scores, I can only assume that they have the same occasional droughts in offense that the Nationals do. Because it wasn’t until the 11th inning that Nick Markakis hit a homer to break the stalemate.
Since it was getting late at that point, I started moving towards the exit, watching the game as I moved towards the exit. It was at that point that I encountered either the most digusting or most obnoxious Orioles fan I have ever encountered. At the top of the 11th, with his team in the lead, he yelled loudly, “Don’t **** this up idiots!” Now, that’s not so bad, but when the Orioles got two outs on a double play, he decided that was the moment to grind against the railing with such force that people at the far ends could feel it shaking. I continued to cheer on the team as they put two men on base (yay Bernadina and Zimmerman), but then choked with LaRoche at the bat.
And that’s where we see the theme – there weren’t a lot of innings where players got on base, but when they did, they were usually stranded at the end of the inning. This is a problem. The Nationals need to work on their offense like you wouldn’t believe. Occasionally they get outbursts like they showed on the Sunday night game against the Orioles (their only win of this Beltway series), the May 5 game against the Phillies and the May 14 game against the Padres, but more often than not it’s heart attack time until the 8th or 9th inning. If the Nats want to be the team to watch for the rest of the season, they need to break out on a more regular basis.
While the Nats are out of town, I’m going to share a special American League Baseball experience that I had later in the week, and then we’ll close out the month with an evaluation of the May Predictions, and with any luck, I can convince Drew to do a June prediction post too!
Full album here.