The Washington Nationals (40-27) will end their battle through the American League East this weekend when they face off against the Baltimore Orioles (39-30). The Nationals began interleague play this season with a loss against the Orioles, but hope to finish in the opposite fashion.
When they last met, both teams were sitting atop highly competitive divisions. After over a month has gone by, the standings are still equally as competitive; however, the Nationals have gained a firm grasp the top spot, while the Orioles have established themselves as the number two team in their division.
The Orioles have lost a lot of the momentum they had going into the last series. They were 11-5 in May before they met the Nats, but since then they have gone 12-15, after their most recent sweep by the New York Mets. In order to finish interleague play with a winning record, both the Nationals and the Orioles need to win at least one game of this series, as both have gone 9-6 so far in interleague match-ups.
The Nationals have gone 7-11 at Camden Yards since 2005.
The Nationals will see all three of the same starters they faced in the last series, including the struggling Jake Arrieta. The last time against the Nats, Arrieta pitched well, giving up six hits through seven innings, allowing just one earned run with nine strikeouts. Since then, though, Arrieta has floundered on the mound. He gave up 28 earned runs in six outings for a 7.71 ERA since he last pitched against Washington, and he was even briefly moved to the bullpen due to his series of rough starts.
Similarly, the Nationals' Ross Detwiler stumbled through the last "Battle of the Beltways," and was moved to the bullpen shortly afterwards. Detwiler went five innings in the Nationals' 5-6 loss to the Orioles last time, and allowed all six earned runs on nine hits with two home runs. He only made one more start after that before his spot in the rotation was taken by Chien-Ming Wang. Now the two pitchers have switched places again, and Detwiler will have the chance to redeem himself against the Orioles in his first opportunity since being put back in the rotation.
With the exception of home runs and total runs scored, the Orioles and the Nationals have maintained very similar offensive stats this year. Both teams are prone to striking out - Baltimore leads the majors in strikeouts with 573 (tied with the Houston Astros), and Washington is close behind with a fifth-place 555. Both are also close together in the bottom half of the standings for batting average, with the Orioles at .246 and the Nationals at .240, as well as for on base percentage (.309 BAL, .306 WASH).
Both teams also have talented closers. The Nats and the O's have collected the second and third most saves in the majors, with 24 and 25, respectively. Closer Jim Johnson has led that charge for the Orioles with 20 saves, while Tyler Clippard has been responsible for 11 of the Nats' saves.
The Orioles differentiate themselves from the Nationals offensively with their power. They have hit the third most home runs in the majors with 90, and have the ninth best slugging percentage (.416). The Nats have hit just 66 homers and have a .392 slugging percentage.
Another significant difference: the O's have grounded into the most double plays in the majors at 75, while the Nats are at the opposite end of the spectrum with a second-to-least 42.
Adam Jones (CF) .302 AVG, .914 OPS, 18 HR, 39 RBI
Wilson Betemit (3B) .450 AVG, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R (last seven games)
Jim Johnson (CL) 1.17 ERA, 20 SV, 21 SVO, 0.65 WHIP, 19 SO
Chris Davis (1B) .000 AVG, .100 OPS, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 7 SO (last seven games; YTD batting average: .283)
Robert Andino (2B) .233 AVG, .290 OBP, .317 SLG, 64 SO
Mark Reynolds (3B) .227 AVG, .353 OBP, .403 SLG, 58 SO
Jake Arrieta (SP) 5.83 ERA, 12 HR, 25 BB, .271 AVG
Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.92 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.87 ERA)
Edwin Jackson (3-4, 3.02 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (7-2, 3.36 ERA)
Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.34 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (3-9, 5.83 ERA)