Manager: Buck Showalter (8th season)
Last 10 games: 6-4
Who to watch: 2B Jonathan Schoop (.292 with 10 HR, 31 RBIs), RF Mark Trumbo (.264 with 8 HR, 29 RBIs), CF Adam Jones (.259 with 11 HR, 28 RBIs), RHP Alec Asher (2-3, 3.62 ERA), RHP Brad Brach (3.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 11 saves), RHP Mychal Givens (2.70 ERA, 10 holds)
Season series vs. Nationals: 2-1
June 8: RHP Alec Asher vs. RHP Joe Ross, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Inside the Orioles:
Before the Orioles head up to New York to face their American League East rivals, the Yankees, they first swing down I-295 to make up a game against the Nationals in our nation's capital. The last time the Orioles faced the Nats they saw their former teammate Matt Wieters walk them off with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Wieters' hit capped a late-inning comeback by the Nationals in which they scored five runs in the eight and ninth innings to erase a 6-2 lead.
The Orioles were in first place in the AL East back then, and that walk-off loss at the hands of their former catcher started an 8-16 slump over the next month that now has them 2 1/2 games back in third place.
The Orioles still possess a ton of power in their lineup despite not hitting for average too well. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop leads qualified O's bats with a .292 average and .530 slugging percentage, and he's hit 10 home runs with 31 RBIs. Center fielder Adam Jones is hitting just .259 while adding 11 longballs and 28 RBIs. Last year's home run champion Mark Trumbo has just eight homers this season but has been heating up recently, batting .313 over his last 22 games. Power bats Chris Davis and Manny Machado always pose a threat to go deep but haven't been consistent enough at the plate. Davis, who just had a seven-game hit streak snapped in which he hit .333, is batting just .233 on the year with 13 home runs and 25 RBIs. Machado, meanwhile, is hitting .213 with 12 home runs and 27 RBIs. The third baseman might not even be available for this game in D.C. after he was spiked by the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen in the second inning of last night's game. X-rays came back negative, but Machado is expected to get an MRI today. Recently acquired RubÃ©n Tejada replaced Machado at third.
If given a chance to bat with the lack of a designated hitter at Nats Park, watch out for rookie Trey Mancini. He hit a two-out two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning last night against the Pirates and then walked it off with a two-out three-run shot in the 11th. Mancini now has nine homers and 30 RBIs on the season.
Alec Asher takes the mound tonight for the Birds, bringing some experience against the Nats to the mound. Traded to the Orioles in spring training, the former Phillies prospect is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in three appearances (two starts) against the Nationals. Daniel Murphy is 2-for-4 with a double and three-run homer against Asher. Michael A. Taylor is 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon are each 1-for-6, and Trea Turner is 0-for-4. Asher is 2-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 13 outings this season, including four starts. In those four starts, though, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.23 ERA.
The Orioles bullpen posts a 3.87 ERA and has made good use of the shuttle between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk to keep its arms fresh to compensate for injured All-Star closer Zach Britton. Right-hander Brad Brach as assumed most of the closing duties in Britton's absence, with a 3.00 ERA and 11 saves. Righty Mychal Givens has also impressed with a 2.70 ERA in 30 innings. Keep an eye out for a familiar face, as former National Edwin Jackson was called up from Norfolk to the Baltimore 'pen on Wednesday after a few extensions on the opt-out date on his minor league contract. In his Orioles debut, Jackson gave up two runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief.