Some of the Baltimore Orioles’ offensive struggles are well-documented.
Baltimore first baseman Ryan Mountcastle doesn’t want to change a whole lot, though. He is counting on better fortune after a stretch in which he drilled some balls and wasn’t rewarded with hits.
As the Orioles face the host Washington Nationals again on Wednesday night, Mountcastle hopes he has turned the corner.
He homered for the 22nd time this season on Tuesday in Baltimore’s 4-3 victory over Washington.
“Last series it was a little tough, but I’m going to try to keep taking those same swings and bring it on the road,” said Mountcastle, who went 2-for-3 with two walks on the night.
The Orioles (74-67) have won just three of their past nine games. They produced 11 hits on Tuesday, their highest total since Sept. 3, so that might be a step in the right direction despite stranding 11 runners.
Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander were the only Orioles starters who finished without a hit.
Baltimore has gone five consecutive games without scoring more than four runs. This would seem to be a good chance to make headway against a Nationals pitching staff that has the second-highest ERA in the major leagues, 5.06.
The Wednesday game will be the last of four meetings between the teams this season. Baltimore has won two of the first three.
Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson and left fielder Kyle Stowers were in the minor leagues when the teams split two games in June. They combined for three hits on Tuesday.
Baltimore didn’t use second baseman Rougned Odor on Tuesday as he had a sore hand after being hit by a pitch on Sunday. Manager Brandon Hyde said he was available to pinch-hit.
While the Orioles are focused on winning at all costs, the Nationals (49-93), who hold the worst record in the major leagues, are clearly in a more experimental phase.
That’s probably why second baseman Luis Garcia was slotted for the cleanup spot on Tuesday for the first time in his three-year major league career. In his first two at-bats, he produced an RBI double and a run-scoring groundout.
“I thought we’ll give it a shot (and) see how he reacts to it,” Washington manager Davey Martinez said. “When he hits the ball, he hits it hard. I like the way he’s swinging the bat.”
The Nationals, who are on a four-game losing streak, have plenty of catchers available, so it seems unlikely that Israel Pineda, who has been behind the plate for the past two games, will return to that role Wednesday. Martinez said he needs to make sure Riley Adams gets some work.
Right-hander Tyler Wells (7-6, 3.91 ERA) will start for the Orioles on Wednesday, his second major league outing since late July. Baltimore has lost the past four games he has pitched.
Wells, though, notched a victory on June 22 against the Nationals by working five shutout innings despite walking four batters. For his career, Wells is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two meetings (one start) against Washington.
With the Orioles having off days Monday and Thursday, Hyde said he’s making Austin Voth available out of the bullpen to add flexibility to the pitching staff.
Washington is set to go with left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-18, 6.30 ERA), who has won two of his last three starts. Though he lost Friday at Philadelphia while logging 6 2/3 innings, it was just one of three outings this season when he didn’t issue a walk. Still, the Phillies tagged him for 12 hits and five runs.
Corbin gave up three runs in four innings in a June 22 loss to Wells and the Orioles. He is 1-4 with a 5.50 ERA in seven career appearances (six starts) against Baltimore.
–Field Level Media