Game 98 lineups: Nats at Orioles

Needing a win to prevent a three-game sweep by the Orioles at Camden Yards, the Nationals today turn to a most unlikely pitcher to halt a three-game skid, secure a win in the season series against the Birds and provide some momentum heading into a four-game series in Philadelphia that could make or break Washington’s campaign.

Righty Paolo Espino (2-2, 3.00 ERA) is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six starts this season, morphing from a journeyman to a trusted resource out of necessity. The 34-year-old has won his last two decisions, the only victories of his career, and notched a save between the two wins in an emergency relief outing.

Thumbnail image for Espino-Throws-Gray-Camo-Sidebar.jpgEspino will be making his first career appearance against the Orioles, none of whom have ever faced him as a major leaguer.

He will be opposed by left-hander John Means (4-3, 2.72 ERA), who is making his second start after missing six weeks with a left shoulder strain. His first outing off the injured list, at Tampa Bay on July 20, saw Means allow five runs on seven hits over five innings while absorbing his third consecutive losing decision since tossing a no-hitter at Seattle on May 5. In between the no-no and three losses were three straight no-decisions, all Orioles losses.

Means has made one career start against the Nats, lasting just 2/3 of an inning in a 6-5 loss last Aug. 16 at Camden Yards during which he allowed three runs on four hits and a walk.

Current Nationals have slashed .600/.625/1.200 off Means in an extremely small sample size of eight plate apperances. Jordy Mercer, currently on the injured list with a left calf strain, is 1-for-2 with a homer and two RBIs. Victor Robles and Juan Soto are each 1-for-1 off the southpaw.

Robles gets the start in center field, Carter Kieboom is at third base and René Rivera is behind the plate.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly sunny, 90 degrees, wind 8 mph to right field

NATIONALS
2B Alcides Escobar
SS Trea Turner
RF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell
DH Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Harrison
3B Carter Kieboom
C René Rivera
CF VIctor Robles

RHP Paolo Espino

ORIOLES
CF Cedric Mullins
DH Trey Mancini
1B Ryan Mountcastle
RF DJ Stewart
3B Maikel Franco
LF Ryan McKenna
2B Domingo Leyba
SS Pat Valaika
C Austin Wynns

LHP John Means

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