Washington Nationals' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made an appearance on ESPN's The Scott Van Pelt Show this afternoon to talk about the upcoming Battle of the Beltways between Zim's Nats and the visiting Baltimore Orioles. The NL East's second place team and the AL East's first place O's meet in a three-game Interleague series this weekend, starting tonight when Edwin Jackson takes on Jake Arrieta in the first of three in D.C. Entering play today, the Nationals are 17-19 against the Orioles since the two teams first played on May 19, 2006. As the Face of the Nats franchise explained during today's interview, with the Nationals competing in the NL East and the O's currently atop their division, there's a little different feel heading into this weekend's series.
"It's kind of fun it actually means something for the first time pretty much since I've played here I guess you could say," Zimmerman explained. "But it's good for the cities. It's good for both fanbases. Obviously the Orioles' fanbase has been around for a long time, and our fanbase is fairly new, but they're both very good fanbases and we look forward to keep growing."
"To be honest with you," the Nats' third baseman said when asked about the makeup of the crowd when the two teams meet, "The first few years here it was way more of [their fans]. It's kind of evened out, even more our fans now. Up there it's still their fans. But it's one of those kind of dueling fanbases where I wouldn't say it's very hostile, it's more of a, I don't know, it's friendly rivalry I guess you could say. But it's fun, it definitely makes it interesting now that we're both good."
The Nationals have succeeded so far this season in spite of a rash of injuries to players like Michael Morse, Drew Storen, Brad Lidge, Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Zimmerman too. The Nats' '05 1st Round pick sees it as a positive in a way, however, as he explained in the interview. "For us to be where we are now with all that adversity already," Zimmerman said, "We're hoping that these guys can come back healthy and essentially we'll make a trade at the All-Star Break without having to trade anyone and get all these guys back and just kind of hold our head above water with our pitching and our defense until then and kind of take off from there."
The 23-15 Nationals won't have all their weapons available to them this weekend when they take on the 25-14 Orioles. It's Bryce Harper's first chance to meet the Nats' Interleague rivals. Wonder what the O's fans will make of the 19-year-old phenom? Nats vs O's tonight in D.C. Interleague in the right league. No DH tonight for the Orioles. Baseball played the right way coming up at 7:05 pm EDT.
• Note: The Scott Van Pelt Show archives their interviews HERE. Not up yet, but check back later if you want to hear Zimmerman's quick interview.