Tonight’s O’s-Nationals live blog

Tonight’s live game blog: We’ll be trying something new here tonight and filing notes, opinions and stats about tonight’s game as it goes on. Everything I add will appear at the top of the text right after this blog introduction.

So check back here often during tonight’s game and hit that refresh button to get the latest from here. Please feel free to post your own opinions and ask questions as the game goes on as well. Hope I hear from a lot of you tonight starting now.

That was close: Pedro Strop stranded two Nats runners on base in the last of the eight, and the Orioles will take a 6-4 lead to the ninth inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Strop got Roger Bernadina on a long flyout to center and pinch-hitter Danny Espinosa on a lineout to left as the O’s are clinging to the lead late here.

A reminder that after tonight’s game I will write a wrap up on this game, and you can move to that entry to leave more questions and comments afterwards. Thanks for all your comments here tonight!

Johnson & Bergy: Steve Johnson left his start tonight for Triple-A Norfolk due to a strained groin. He had pitched two scoreless innings on 31 pitches against Pawtucket to lower his ERA to 2.62. They won’t know how long he might be out until they take a closer look at him tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Brad Bergesen, who cleared waivers and was sent back to Norfolk, is expected to be activated and start on the mound on Sunday for the Tides.

The Nats battle back: The Nationals scored once in the fifth and three times in the sixth to knock Jason Hammel out of the game and pull to within 6-4. The Nats had just one hit through the first four frames, but it looked like Hammel hit a bit of a wall for the second start in a row. The Nats are back in this game.

Over his past two starts, Hammel has allowed 13 hits and nine runs (eight earned) over 10 1/3 innings, raising his ERA from 2.09 to 3.12. Still, he could get the win tonight as the Orioles lead 6-4 after six innings.

‘Pen Power: Some notes about the O’s bullpen will be needed again tonight for some key outs late in this game. The O’s ‘pen leads the majors with an ERA of 2.07. Jim Johnson is 14-for-14 in save chances this year, with an ERA of 0.48 and batting average against of .169. He has converted his last 22 save opportunities, dating back to August 14, 2011.

Kevin Gregg has not allowed an earned run in his last seven outings, covering 9 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA from 12.27 to 3.46. Pedro Strop is 3-1 with three saves and has recorded 11 straight scoreless appearances over 13 innings, during which opponents are batting .150.

Markakis mashing: Nick Markakis hit another homer tonight. His two-run shot in the fifth gave the O’s a 6-0 lead on Ross Detwiler. That is Markakis’ eighth homer of the year. Last season, he hit number eight on July 16.

Over his past 12 games, Markakis is batting .327 with five homers and 11 RBIs. The Orioles are having some fun so far tonight in D.C.

Another Adam bomb: Adam Jones hit yet another homer tonight, a two-run shot in the third to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead. Jones has now hit four homers his last five games, six in his last 11 and eight homers over his last 15 games. He is also now 2-for-2 tonight and 16-for-45 (.356) during a 11-game hitting streak. He now has 17 RBIs his last 15 games.

Is that good?

Andino ends RBI drought: Robert Andino came up with a clutch, two-out, two-run single to left in the second to give the O’s the early lead. Andino was just 5-for-38 over his previous ten games and had gone 11 games since his last RBI on May 7 vs. Texas. Birds get the early lead, 2-0.

O’s strand two in first: The Orioles got a triple (charitably scored that) and single in the first but didn’t score. J.J. Hardy’s liner to left was misplayed by Roger Bernardina into a triple, but Ryan Zimmerman bailed the Nats out when he fielded a grounder to his left hit by Nick Markakis and threw Hardy out at home. The Fox TV replays showed that Hardy was out by inches. Matt Wieters later was called out on strikes with two on and two out to end the frame.

Harper batting second: Bryce Harper is batting second for the Nats tonight. So far, since his callup, Davey Johnson has batted him second, third, fifth and seventh in the order. Harper went 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk last night to snap a 6-for-36 run over a nine-game stretch. “The Kid” hit .300 over his first nine major league games, then .167 over the next nine until his two-hit game last night.

For starters: Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.68 ERA) makes his eighth start for the Orioles tonight. He gave up two runs or less in his first six outings before giving up five runs in five innings on eight days’ rest Monday against the Yankees. Hammel missed a few days due to that right knee injury, and it is worth watching that closely again tonight.

Hammel enters this start eighth in the AL in batting average against and ninth in ERA. The Orioles are 5-2 when he starts this year.

Lefty Ross Detwiler (3-2, 2.75 ERA) goes for the Nats. He has given up seven earned runs over 11 innings in his last two starts, but four times this year he has given up one earned run or less.

Lefty batters hit just .125 off him, and right-handed batters are hitting .252 off Detwiler this year. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.42 in four home starts.

What do you think about this pitching matchup tonight? Are you confident of an O’s victory tonight at Nats Park?

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