Matthew Taylor: Tracing the battle to before there were Beltways

The Orioles and Nationals wrapped up the 2013 edition of the Battle of the Beltways on Thursday night with the O’s winning their third game of the four-game, split-stadium series. The series got me to thinking about the early days of this match-up and how much I’d forgotten since these two teams starting playing each other again. And then there’s the stuff I never knew from the original days of Baltimore-Washington baseball. I took a look back at the first games between the two franchises in 1954 as well as the first games of the Orioles-Nationals series in 2006.

The first Baltimore-Washington match-up took place in 1954 after the St. Louis Browns relocated to Charm City and became the Orioles. The O’s won that initial meeting with the Senators, a 2-1 victory at Griffith Stadium on April 29. Bob Turley picked up the win with a complete game, one-run effort. The Orioles did all their scoring in the second inning with left fielder Don Lenhardt scoring on a Mickey McDermott wild pitch to shortstop Billy Hunter, who then singled to score catcher Les Moss. Left fielder Roy Sievers homered for the Senators’ lone run.

The O’s and Senators played 22 times in 1954. The Senators took 12 of those games, including an eight-game win streak against the Orioles that started in the nightcap of a June 13 doubleheader and continued on through their July 22 match-up in the nation’s capital. The O’s had a modest four-game win streak in late August and early September to make the overall series more respectable.

Washington finished the 1954 season in sixth place in the eight-team American League with a 66-88 record, one spot ahead of the Orioles, who finished the year 54-100.

The first modern edition of the Baltimore-Washington match-up took place in 2006, one year after the Montreal Expos relocated to the District and became the Nationals. The O’s won that initial meeting with the Nationals, a 5-1 victory at RFK Stadium on May 19, 2006. Kris Benson picked up the victory with a complete-game, one-run effort.

Jeff Conine scored the first run of the series on a Corey Patterson triple after leading off the sixth inning with a walk. Patterson then scored on a Benson groundout. Patterson finished the game 2-for-4 with a triple, a stolen base, an RBI and two runs scored. Benson went 0-for-4 at the dish with three strikeouts but had that RBI. Melvin Mora, fresh off signing a three-year, $25 million contract extension, went 3-for-5 with three singles. Alfonso Soriano of the Nationals had the first home run of the Battle of the Beltways in the eighth inning.

The O’s and Nats played a total of six times in 2006 and split the overall series three games apiece. Both teams defended their home turf. The Orioles finished the season in fourth place in the American League East with a 70-92 record. The Nationals posted a 71-91 mark and finished in last place in the National League East.

Editor’s note: The Baltimore Beltway (Interstate 695) was completed in 1962, while the Washington Beltway (Interstate 495) opened in 1958.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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