O’s game blog: The Nats-O’s series opener at the Yard

The Orioles play at home for the first time since the All-Star break tonight when they host the Washington Nationals to start a three-game series. It begins a five-game homestand, with Miami coming to town on Tuesday night. The O’s last home game was July 11, when the Chicago White Sox completed a three-game sweep in Baltimore.

The Orioles (31-64) went 3-3 on their road trip to Kansas City and St. Petersburg. They won two of three versus the Royals and lost two of three to the Tampa Bay Rays. They lost in walk-off fashion 5-4 on Wednesday afternoon.

The Orioles and Nationals have played every year since 2006 and the O’s lead the all-time series between these teams 45-38, including a mark of 23-17 in Baltimore. But when they played at Nats Park in May, Washington swept three games by scores of 4-2, 12-9 and 6-5.

The Orioles went 4-2 against Washington last year and are 6-7 over the last 13 games they have played. But they have lost the last four games between the teams. The Orioles have won the season series eight times, lost twice and tied it five.

Right-hander Jorge López (2-12, 6.04 ERA) gets the start tonight, his 20th. He got a no-decision on Saturday when the O’s won at Kansas City, allowing four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings on 80 pitches.

Lopez-Throws-Black-Sidebar.jpgBut Lopez has allowed four runs or more in five of his last seven starts, going 0-6 with a 7.29 ERA in that span. Opponents are hitting .361 against him with an OPS of .940 in that time frame. López has thrown less than five innings in 12 of his 19 starts for the season and the Orioles are 5-14 in his outings.

In the first four innings each of his 2021 starts, López has a 4.14 ERA. But that goes up to 17.47 in the fifth inning, when opponents bat .508 against him. On May 21 he faced the Nats and allowed seven hits and two runs over five innings with three walks and eight strikeouts on 88 pitches.

Lefty Patrick Corbin (6-8, 5.66 ERA) starts for the visitors. In 98 2/3 innings this season he has given up 110 hits and 18 home runs with 1.470 WHIP, a 3.2 walk rate and a 6.9 strikeout rate, which is a career low. In three starts this month, he is 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA and has allowed a .362 average and .974 OPS in this span.

Corbin’s pitching has fallen off in the last couple of years with Washington, from an ERA of 3.25 and WHIP of 1.183 in 2019 to 4.66 and 1.569 in 2020 to 5.66 and 1.470 this year.

Corbin is being paid $24.4 million for the 2021 season and is due $83.2 million over the three years after this one.

On May 23 he got a win against the Orioles despite giving up four runs and a season-high 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings on 95 pitches. The Nationals are 9-9 in his starts this year. In eight road starts, he is 1-4 with a 6.05 ERA.

Orioles catchers lead the majors in caught-stealing percentage (42.2 percent), throwing out 19 of 45 runners attempting steals. Their 19 catcher caught-stealings lead the American League and are third-most in the majors.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins is batting .405 (34-for-84) in the first inning this season. His 34 first-inning hits are the most in the majors, eight more than the second-most (Ozzie Albies of the Braves, Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays and Trea Turner for the Nats) and the 34 hits are also the most in any single inning in the majors. The O’s single-season record for the most hits in the first inning is 52 by Nick Markakis in 2007, and Markakis also has the second-highest total, 51 in 2014. Mullins’ 13 first-inning extra-base hits (eight doubles, one triple, four homers) are the third-most in the majors.

Orioles full-season minor league affiliates have combined for a 139-129 record and a plus-91 run differential.

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