O’s game blog: Trying for a sweep at Nats Park

The Orioles, who had no series sweeps in 162 games last year, can record their second of 2020 in the season’s first 15 games today. After beating Washington 11-0 and 5-3 this weekend, the O’s can complete the sweep this afternoon at Nats Park.

The Orioles’ last series sweep of the Nationals came on May 8-9, 2017, when the O’s swept a two-game series at Oriole Park. Their last three-game series sweep of Washington came on Sept. 22-24, 2015 at Nationals Park. The Orioles’ last three-game series sweep on the road came Aug. 25-27, 2017 against Boston at Fenway Park.

The Orioles had a season-high 19 hits in Friday’s win and were being shut out last night until their three-home-run barrage in the eighth inning provided a comeback win. After Pat Valaika and Pedro Severino hit back-to-back pinch-hit homers, the O’s were down 3-2. Anthony Santander’s three-run shot to left put them ahead 5-3, and they won by that score.

Santander-Rounds-Third-Flores-White-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles (7-7) are 4-1 on the road. They are 7-1 in weekend games against Boston, Tampa Bay and Washington. They are 0-6 in games played between Monday and Thursday.

Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (0-2, 5.40 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles, his third of the year. In the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader he gave up two runs over five innings on 67 pitches against Miami. He is pitching on three days’ rest this afternoon.

Wojciechowski’s fastball usage from last year is down over his first two starts, from 54 to 36 percent, and his slider use is up from 25 to 40 percent. In six career interleague games he is 0-3 with a 5.91 ERA. In four games against Washington, he is 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA.

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been dealing with a right wrist injury and will make his season debut today. In the 2019 regular season, he went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA over 33 starts. He led the National League in wins and innings (209) and finished second in the NL in strikeouts (251). He finished fifth in voting for the Cy Young Award and 15th in voting for the NL MVP.

Strasburg was a playoff hero as the Nationals won the World Series. In six postseason games, he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He walked four and fanned 47 in 36 1/3 innings. He went 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA on his way to being named the World Series MVP in the Nats’ win over Houston in seven games.

Last season he used his fastball a career-low 48 percent of the time at an average velocity of 93.9 mph. He used his curve a career-most 31 percent and his changeup a career-most 21 percent of the time. In three career starts versus Baltimore he is 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA over 18 innings.

O’s hitter notes:

* Hanser Alberto is 5-for-14 his past three games with three doubles, four runs and an RBI.

* Severino is 5-for-7 his last three games with a double, homer and four RBIs.

* Renato Núñez is 6-for-15 during a four-game hitting streak. He has three homers his past three games and five in his last eight.

* Rio Ruiz is 2-for-6 in this series.

* Santander has hit safely in four straight games, going 6-for-17 with a double, triple, homer and five RBIs.

O’s starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of the past nine games. In those eight games, the rotation ERA is 2.31. The bullpen ERA is 1.13 in this series, 1.82 the past nine games and 2.58 since the second game of the season.

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