The Nationals begin a three-game interleague series in Baltimore on Memorial Day at 1:05 p.m. and no matter the result, it will be a tough one for Orioles fans to digest.
Washington enters the series as an annual contender in the National League East with stability in the front office, after general manager Mike Rizzo signed a contract extension earlier this spring.
The Nationals (29-22), who enter Monday 1 game back of first-place Atlanta, are once again a division favorite and have won four NL East titles since 2012. And don’t be surprised if some Nats fans make the north for the series — there have plenty of good seats available this spring at Camden Yards.
The last-place Orioles, contrastingly, are, at best, in a year of transition. At worst, call it utter disarray.
The Orioles got off to a terrible start and at one point lost 13 road games in a row. Baltimore enter Monday with one of the saddest records in the majors, at 17-36.
General manager Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are each in the final year of their contracts, while Brady Anderson, a former Orioles outfielder, has gained influence in the front office of the club but may not want to be the GM.
“I want responsibilities and I have a lot of responsibilities,” Anderson told The Sun last week, “but a lot of things I do I might not be able to do if I were the GM.”
The Baltimore Sun reported last week that longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos, 88, has pulled back from much of the day-to-day operations of the team, in part due to his age. That came after a similar report last month by The Athletic.
Monday’s game renews a rivalry in which the front offices of the two teams rarely exchange Christmas cards.
The Nationals, who arrived in Washington in 2005, have never made a trade with the Orioles — or vice versa.
One thing each team does have in common: Their best all-around player will be a free agent after this season.
Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was the National League MVP in 2015 while Orioles shortstop Manny Machado is having one of his best seasons.
The Orioles may also consider trading, besides Machado, pending free agent center fielder Adam Jones and injured closer Zach Britton before the July deadline to help restock a mostly-bare minor league system.
But there is time for that later.
The Orioles lead the series with the Nationals 38-26 since 2006, including a mark of 21-11 at Camden Yards. (The Orioles also played the Montreal Expos in 1997, 1999 and 2001 at home before the Expos moved to Washington in 2005).
Here are a few of the memorable games in the series held at Camden Yards, from a Nationals perspective:
First win at Camden Yards
The first win for the Nationals franchise in Baltimore came on June 25, 2006, by a score of 9-5.
After losing the first two games of the series by one run, the Nationals exploded for 14 hits, including three each from shortstop Royce Clayton and No. 9 hitter Marlon Byrd.
The winning pitcher was Livan Hernandez. He was relieved in the seventh inning by Bill Bray, a product of William & Mary.
Zimmerman hits 3 homers
The Nationals lost 9-6 but it was a memorable night for Ryan Zimmerman, the University of Virginia product.
Zimmerman hit a homer in his first three at-bats at Camden Yards on May 29, 2013.
“Big players step up when the team needs him,” former Washington shortstop Ian Desmond told reporters about Zimmerman that day. “I think he understands what’s going on with our team. I think he feels inside he needs to carry some of the weight. That’s what superstars do. He is definitely that. He has turned it up a notch.”
It was the first time Zimmerman hit three homers in a game.
The last win at Camden Yards
He gave four hits and two runs in 8.2 innings with seven strikeouts. Both Orioles runs came on solo homers by Jones – one in the first and one in the ninth. Drew Storen came on to get the last out in the ninth for the save.
That was the first season with the Nationals for Scherzer (8-1, 2.13), who has won the Cy Young the past two years. He is slated to start on Wednesday in Baltimore against the Orioles. The other two starters for the Nationals in the series could be Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.38) on Monday and Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.13) on Tuesday.
Orioles ace Dylan Bundy, who had 14 strikeouts Thursday against the White Sox, is slated to start Tuesday. Alex Cobb (7.32 ERA) will start Monday and rookie David Hess (4.15) on Wednesday.
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