WASHINGTON—After four losses against a team reeling from the coronavirus, the Orioles broke out against the defending World Series champions.
The Orioles set season highs in runs and hits (19) in an 11-0 blowout of the Washington Nationals Friday night at Nationals Park.
In losing four straight to the Miami Marlins, who were struggling to put together a roster after 18 players tested positive for Covid-19, the Orioles were held to a run on 10 hits in the first three games and played sloppily in the fourth.
There was no carryover on Friday.
Starter Tommy Milone shut down the Nationals’ talented offense with six shutout innings and was backed by his hitters.
Seven Orioles had multiple hits. Shortstop José Iglesias equaled his career high with four hits. He drove in three runs, including one on a sacrifice fly. Catcher Pedro Severino had three hits and drove in two. Centerfielder Austin Hays also had three hits. Hanser Alberto, Chris Davis, Renato Nuñez and Anthony Santander each had two hits.
Nuñez’s third home run in two games, his fifth in 13 games, was a three-run shot in the Orioles’ four-run sixth. It was the Orioles’ first three-run home run of the season. They added three more in the seventh for the final margin.
“It was a good day all-around, especially coming off a tough series with Miami,” Iglesias said in a video conference call. “This one was huge, built players’ confidence, and to get it going was very important.”
Iglesias, who missed time because of a left quad injury, is batting a sizzling .455.
“It’s been a process over the last several years,” Iglesias, 30, said of his improved hitting. “I feel comfortable. I can help this team in so many ways. The bat is one of them, and I’m capable of putting some good at-bats together for them.”
Manager Brandon Hyde, who managed Iglesias in the Arizona Fall League in 2009, hadn’t seen much of him in the intervening years. While Hyde was a coach in the National League, Iglesias was playing in the American League. Last year, when Iglesias played for Cincinnati, Hyde was managing the Orioles.
“He’s just taken really good at-bats,” Hyde said. “I see him talking hitting with our guys a lot. He’s showing veteran leadership, pulling guys aside. He’s been incredibly helpful, talking on defense.”
Remembering Iglesias as a 19-year-old, Hyde is taken aback.
“It makes you feel great,” Hyde said. “He is so mature. He’s such a smart player. He knows pitchers. He knows how to take at-bats. It’s helpful with our players.”
Davis, who doubled in his final at-bat on Thursday night, doubled in the second and singled in the fourth. He was 2-for-5, and is hitting .143.
Milone, who had two stints with the Nationals, was excellent, working six innings, the longest for an Oriole this season. Milone allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter, striking out three.
“That was an outstanding start,” Hyde said. “Very few locations missed. You saw a lot of weak contact, a lot of balls off the barrel at the end of the bat just because the changeup was really good again. You also saw some jammed flyballs on fastballs in.”
Milone enjoyed pitching with robust run support.
“It’s always nice as a starting pitcher to be able to attack the zone,” Milone said. “To get runs early, made that a lot easier.”
Milone has allowed just one run in 18 1/3 innings in three starts against Washington.
“It’s a little different this year,” Milone said. “No fans in the stands.”
After watching the losses to the Marlins, Milone was eager to move on.
“Teams go though stretches where you play really good, you play really bad,” Milone said. “Facing a different team definitely helps, getting a new start against a different ball club.”
The Orioles, who won three games against Tampa Bay before dropping four to the Marlins, are 6-7.
“For these guys to show up and have good at-bats right away, that doesn’t surprise me,” Hyde said. “I just thought we had good at-bats, up and down the order.”
Washington is 4-6.
The Orioles tattooed veteran Anibal Sanchez, who has a 7.30 ERA in seven career starts against them, for five runs on 10 hits in five innings.
On Saturday night, the Orioles will throw Thomas Eshelman against Austin Voth. Sunday could be a bullpen game because John Means is on the bereavement list after the death of his father. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his first start for the Nationals.
Odds and ends: Third baseman Rio Ruiz, who returned to the lineup after missing five games because of right shoulder inflammation, was the only starter without a hit … David Hess, who hadn’t pitched since allowing three runs on three hits in the season opener on July 24th, pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth … Dennis Sarfate, who pitched for the Orioles in 2008 and 2009 and had a long career in Japan, has retired from baseball because he needs hip replacement surgery. Sarfate announced the decision on his Facebook page.
Question call: Next week, I’ll be answering Orioles questions. Please either leave your questions in the comments or send them to me: [email protected].