When Nats shortstop Ian Desmond threw wildly past third base in the bottom of the third inning tonight, two key runs scored for the Orioles. It looked like a very poor choice by Desmond to throw that way and it was certainly very poor execution.
But Adam Jones, who scored from second on Nelson Cruz’s grounder up the middle, did not see it as a bad play at all as Desmond threw behind him.
“Great play by Desmond,” Jones said. “If the throw was on the money I’m a sitting duck. But it wasn’t. Fortunate error for us, unfortunate for them.
“It was a basehit up the middle. If it gets through and I don’t score, I’m pretty sure Cruz would come across that diamond and have some choice words for me.”
The Orioles won two of three games against the Nationals this week. It was three games played in front of big crowds in two cities between two first-place teams.
“I think it’s good for the DMV area that both teams are playing quite well this late in the season,” Jones said. “Both in first place. That’s a great pitching staff, one of the top in baseball if not the top. That’s a very good team, but so are we. It raised the competition and we love the competition.
“You never know what could happen. We could have a battle of the beltways in October when it’s a little colder and bring the fans back out. We’re playing good baseball right now. Pitching, defense and timely hitting. It’s coming along right now.”
Steve Pearce hit a solo homer in the first inning to get the O’s offense started and end Gio Gonzalez’s 22-inning scoreless streak. After taking two of three from the Nats, now the O’s welcome the Yankees to town Friday night.
“We have a real good team and we’re firing on all cylinders right now,” Pearce said. “I like where we’re at as a ballclub. This was big. Keeps us on the winning side and it’s going to propel us into the series against the Yankees.
“It’s a big series. Hopefully we do well heading into the All-Star break and we can create some distance between us.”
Wei-Yin Chen got the win to improve to 9-3 with a 4.15 ERA. He got through the first three innings on just 30 pitches but was later knocked out of the game during Washington’s two-run sixth.
“Maybe later in the game some of the hitters were sitting on my fastball,” Chen said through his interpreter. “And later in the game my command was not as sharp as the first part of the game and I think that’s why they squared up the ball harder later.
“I’m happy. This is the first time in my career, including my career in Japan, that I can get that many wins by the All-Star break. But I think the reason I got that many wins is my teammates picked me up. Our lineup, our bullpen, my catcher and teammates are playing really well behind me.”
Zach Britton pitched the ninth to record his 15th save in 17 chances and sixth in a row since a blown save June 20 at New York.
Britton had to wait a while to throw the game’s last pitch. Jayson Werth stepped out of the box with a man on first, two outs and a 2-1 count in the ninth. He may have been hurt by a ball fouled off his foot. But he was out of the batter’s box for a long time. When he finally got back in the box Britton got him to ground out on the very next pitch.
What did Britton think Werth was doing in that situation?
“Yeah, I’m not sure. It looked like it glanced off his foot,” he said. “I don’t know if he was trying to ice me or whatever in a big situation. But I tried to just focus on making a good pitch whenever he got back in the box. Seemed like it took a long time. But it’s just nice to get a groundball on the next pitch and win the game.”
Britton extended his club record home scoreless innings streak to 30 1/3 tonight.
It was another good night for the bullpen overall as Britton, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings on two hits.
“Everyone is doing their job,” Britton said. “Darren has been great all year and those were some really big outs to set up that inning for me. A lot of credit goes to what he did, keeping us there with that lead.”