The Orioles’ struggling offense produced just two runs in three games the last time they faced the Washington Nationals. That was against a pitching staff that currently ranks third in the majors with an ERA of 3.38 and second in rotation ERA at 3.23.
In late May, the Nationals (38-32) won three at Camden Yards by scores of 6-0, 3-2 and 2-0. The Orioles were held to 20 hits and had a team slash line of .213/.260/.277 in that series. They hit just one homer, walked three times in three games and struck out 24 times.
The teams begin a three-game series tonight at Nationals Park. The Orioles (20-50) have played 70 games with 92 to go. The O’s 10-4 win over Miami on Sunday ended a nine-game losing streak and 11-game home losing streak. The Orioles are only 9-27 on the road and 2-8-1 in 11 road series.
The Nationals have lost six of seven games. But over a longer stretch, they are 27-16 since beginning the season 11-16. At home, they are 16-17.
Right-hander David Hess (2-3, 4.13 ERA) will make his seventh major league start tonight and is pitching on six days’ rest. Hess gave up five runs over 3 1/3 innings in his last game, which was against Boston. In two starts versus the Red Sox, he is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA and has given up five homers in eight innings. In his four other starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA, allowing three homers over 24 2/3 innings.
On May 30, Hess took a 2-0 loss to Max Scherzer and the Nationals. Over six innings, he allowed four hits and one run, on Bryce Harper’s third-inning home run. Hess walked one, fanned two and threw 97 pitches.
A 24-year-old right-hander, Jefry Rodriguez will make his second major league appearance and first start for Washington. On June 3, he threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings on four hits against Atlanta. In 13 starts this season for Double-A Harrisburg, he is 5-3 with a 3.31 ERA. Over 68 innings, the native of the Dominican Republic has allowed 55 hits including six homers with 28 walks, 72 strikeouts and a .222 average against.
Rodriguez was ranked by Baseball America as the Nats’ No. 24 prospect over the winter. His fastball can sit in the mid-90s and touch 97 and 98 mph, and he features a power curveball, but his control can be an issue. In his past three Double-A starts, he allowed four unearned runs on just four hits over 16 innings with eight walks and 21 strikeouts.
Manny Machado went 5-for-14 with three RBIs in the Orioles series against Miami over the weekend, but he’s batting just .245 in 13 games in June. Adam Jones is 10-for-24 during a five-game hitting streak. He is batting .366 over his last 19 games and .347 in his last 36 games. Jonathan Schoop’s double Sunday was his first since June 2. Harper is a 1-for-25 slump for the Nationals and is batting .212 on the year. He’s batting .135 with a .416 OPS this month.
According to STATS, LLC., catcher Caleb Joseph and infielder Corban Joseph are the first set of brothers as teammates since Melvin Upton Jr. and Justin Upton appeared on the roster together for the 2015 San Diego Padres. The Josephs are the 28th set of brothers as teammates in the majors since 1980. Cal Ripken Jr. and Billy Ripken are the only other set of brothers as teammates in Orioles history. Brothers Dick Brown and Larry Brown both also played for the Orioles, but did not appear on the O’s roster at the same time.