Before his first experience of the regional rivalry between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals last August, Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker talked about what that sort of rivalry can do for the dueling fan bases in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“I think it’s great for a region, because it inspires instruction in families, it inspires arguments in families,” Baker said.
“One kid loves the Orioles and the other kids loves the Nationals and what it does, I think it — especially when the two teams are good teams — I think it’s great for baseball. It’s great for discussion. Quite frankly, when I first got here I said — I was just kidding — but I was half-heartedly kidding, I said it would be great to have a — I didn’t know what they were going to call it, I didn’t know it was called ‘the beltway’ — it would be great to have a Beltway Series. World Series.”
Washington dropped the first of two games in Oriole Park, but the Nationals’ manager liked the atmosphere at Camden Yards.
“It had a feeling,” Baker said. “I saw a lot of orange mixed in with some red. I thought there might have been possibly more people here, but it was also the beginning of school, which I understood too, and it’s school time, it probably would have been better to play them on a weekend, you’d really see the difference. It’s a beautiful stadium, a beautiful place to play.”
The Orioles took three straight from the Nationals before Max Scherzer shut them out over eight innings in a 4-0 win in the finale of last August’s four-game, two-city set.
With the win, the Nationals improved to 24-36 against the Orioles since 2006, the first time they played after baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005.
Over the course of the rivalry, 34 of the 60 games the Nationals and Orioles played have been decided by two runs or fewer, with 24 of the 34 one-run contests, with Washington 6-18 in the games that were decided by just one run.
In Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Nationals are 11-19 heading into this week’s four-game, home and home matchup.
The Nationals have a 6.5-game lead the NL East, while the Orioles ended the day on Sunday a 0.5-game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Washington was on its way to a series sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park before a blown lead late in the finale of the three-game set and loss in extras ended a four-game win streak.
“It was a tough one to lose,” Baker said. “We did have some more opportunities to score, to pad the lead. Ever since I’ve been coming here you always leave out of here with your heart broken as least once during the year, cause they’ve walked us off like two or three times here in the last couple years. It’s okay, we just start a new streak tomorrow.”
“We know we’ve got the tough Orioles to deal with, we’re going to their park and we’ve got to put this one behind us.”