All week long, the Orioles have found ways to steal victories from the Washington Nationals in increasingly improbable fashion.
Wednesday night was the reversal that no one saw coming.
Against a strong Orioles bullpen anchored by Brad Brach, the host Nationals won, 7-6, by erasing a four-run, late-inning deficit with a home run by left fielder Jayson Werth and a two-run, walk-off single by former Orioles and current Nationals catcher Matt Wieters.
With it, the Orioles (22-11) saw their six-game winning streak end.
“Just couldn’t quite get those last two outs,” manager Buck Showalter said. “They kind of did to us what we’ve done to them. It’s part of the game.”
On Monday night, the Orioles held on for a 6-4 win after the Nationals got two men on in the ninth inning and improbably ran into the game’s final out on a rundown spawned from a routine ground ball.
On Tuesday night, reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer left his club with a 4-2 lead after eight innings only for fill-in closer Enny Romero to give up the lead in the ninth. Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo ended it with a bases-loaded single in the 12th inning, and the Orioles won, 5-4.
It looked like Wednesday would be another Orioles win, albeit at Nationals Park. They jumped out to an early lead on Stephen Strasburg and led 6-2 in the seventh inning. But Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run home run off reliever Alec Asher in the eighth inning to turn make it 6-4 and create a save situation for Brach, the team’s long-term fill-in for injured closer Zach Britton.
Werth worked an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a home run to right-center field, and right fielder Bryce Harper followed it with a double.
Brach lamented the inning-opening at-bat as a difficult one both in the moment and for the rest of his outing.
“It was tough,” Brach said. “Looking back at it, I threw some really good pitches. He got the upper hand there toward the end and just was able to drive one out to right-center field. … I think that was the big key to Werth, I fell behind there and had to come back in the zone and he got to see everything that I threw. Unfortunately, when you have 11-pitch at-bats against guys like him, he’s going to take advantage of it.”
With Harper standing on second base representing the tying run, Brach still had a chance to convert his ninth save in 10 tries since assuming the role.
Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to Brach, Daniel Murphy was given an automatic walk after he worked the count 3-1, then Anthony Rendon hit an 0-2 single up the middle.
“I was kind of being careful because I knew there was an open base there,” Brach said. “Kind of making my pitches, seeing what was going to happen. The big at-bat, though, was Rendon. I had him 0-2 there and could have maybe thrown some other pitches and just threw a fastball where I didn't want to put it and he singled there.”
Wieters, who had three hits, hit a single to right field just outside the reach of first baseman Chris Davis to send his former teammates off the field dejected and his new ones charging out of the dugout to celebrate with him.
The new Nationals catcher said there was no abnormal satisfaction with beating his former club, and Showalter said there was no abnormal reaction on tap to Brach’s difficult night.
“Brad will be all right,” Showalter said. “He’s good at this, and tonight, a very good club just got him.”
Another tightrope for Miley: Left-hander Wade Miley is making a habit out of dancing out of dangerous situations this season.
Miley, who allowed just two runs in five innings of work, did so by pitching out of countless jams along the way, just as he has all season. He allowed nine base runners, but the Nationals only scraped across runs in the fourth and fifth innings before he turned it over to the bullpen.
Bottom-half barrage: Miley’s lead was built on a barrage of hits by the resurgent bottom of the Orioles’ batting order. After second baseman Jonathan Schoop was hit by a pitch on his hand to open the second inning, shortstop J.J. Hardy singled to push him to third and catcher Caleb Joseph scored him with a single of his own.
Miley laid down a bunt base hit to load the bases, and the Orioles tacked on two more early runs when they turned the order over on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Seth Smith and a single by center fielder Adam Jones.
The old Trumbo: After a pair of strikeouts in his first two trips against Strasburg, right fielder Trumbo sat on a center-cut slider and delivered a home run that was straight out of 2016.
His fourth home run of the year, which came in the fifth inning after a two-out single by Davis, nearly landed in the Budweiser Brew House in center field, traveling an estimated 461 feet and going 110 mph off the bat, according to MLB’s Statcast data.
Trumbo has hits in seven straight games and home runs in two of the three games against Washington this season.
Machado homers again: With a two-out solo home run in the top of the seventh Wednesday, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has five of his team-high nine home runs in his past 10 games.
Before the home run, he’d struck out twice and ended the second inning with a double play. Machado’s homer gave the Orioles a 6-2 lead.