For the Orioles Sunday at Camden Yards, it was more of the same: eight runners left on, 0-6 with runners in scoring position, many opportunities squandered, and a starting pitcher who, even after giving up just 1 run, had to pin his hopes on a no-decision.
Jake Arrieta turned in his third straight solid start, yielding just one earned run on 5 hits and 1 walk (intentional) in 6 innings. He struck out 5, and was taken out of the game with the Orioles down 1-0, having thrown 103 pitches. And although he couldn’t personally grab his fourth win, he game his squad enough of an effort for them to stay close, and eventually battle back for the team’s 41st win of the year.
Arrieta’s day was not without its struggles. He set the side down in order just twice in six innings of work. The Nats got to him in the third. Jhonatan Solano led off the inning with a double for the Nats, and Arrieta hit Steve Lombardozzi with a pitch. Arrieta fell behind Bryce Harper, 3-1, but came back to get the rookie on a 1-6-3 double play. But after falling behind 3-1 to Ryan Zimmerman, the Nats third baseman delivered an RBI single to left, for the Nationals’ only run of the day.
The Orioles offensive continued to stumble along for most of the afternoon. The Birds left 8 runners stranded. Adam Jones, JJ Hardy, and Ronny Paulino each left two runners in scoring position with two outs. The Orioles were 0-6 with RISP on the day. It wasn’t as if there were no opportunities. The Orioles picked up 7 hits, and walked 4 times.
But, as has been the case for a week now, the runs were just not being pushed across. And then, in the eighth inning, something happened that hadn’t happened since June 3rd. Against Nats reliever Sean Burnett, Matt Wieters went deep. Wieters connected for his 10th home run, into the Orioles bullpen with Adam Jones on first, giving the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
Jim Johnson came on for the ninth, having saved 21 games in 22 tries. He got Mike Morse on a ground out, but then walked Ian Desmond. The added drama of allowing the tie run on first set up a terrific finish, as Johnson fanned Danny Espinosa on a pitch where Desmond broke toward second. Wieters throw was perfect for JJ Hardy to apply the tag, for a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the game, and give the Orioles a hard-fought 2-games-to-1 Battle of the Beltways series win.
The Orioles have an off day Monday, and get ready for a brief, 2-game set with the Angels at Camden Yards, starting Tuesday at 7:05
- Jake Arrieta was again very good. Arrieta is 3-9 on the season in 16 starts. In games Arrieta has won this year, he has given up just 1 earned run in 22 innings, for a ridiculous, 0.41 ERA. In games he has pitched to a no decision, Arrieta’s ERA is 2.73. So, in games Arrieta has not been the losing pitcher, his ERA is 1.68 (it’s 9.66 in his 9 losses).
- Without this bullpen, the Orioles would be sunk. Again Sunday, the pen did the job, with Troy Oatton, Pedro Strop (W, 4-2), and Johnson combining for no runs on a hit and a walk in 3 innings.