Washington, DC — As the Orioles’ 11th and final run came around to score on a perfect Friday night at Nationals Park, third base coach José David Flores simply pointed the runner home instead of waving him around third base: he’d done that enough.
Smarting from a humiliating four-game sweep at the hands of a makeshift Miami Marlins club, the Orioles’ trip to face the World Series champion Washington Nationals proved to be the most unlikely panacea.
Their 11-0 win at Nationals Park, powered by four hits from shortstop José Iglesias, a three-run home run by Renato Núñez, and six shutout innings from Tommy Milone, snapped a four-game losing streak for the Orioles (6-7).
“Nothing really surprises me with these guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We just had a tough series where we lost some games we felt like we should have won, or done some things a little differently to win ballgames. For these guys to show up and have good at-bats right away, that doesn’t surprise me about them. I’ve seen them do it so many times.”
Said Milone: :You want to test the resiliency of your team, and we didn’t have a good four-game stretch against the Marlins, and we come out and bang the ball around and get a win.”
To play the kind of complete game they’d been lacking in that Marlins series, the Orioles had to start early. They scored once in the first inning on a double by Iglesias, but threatened for more.
Chris Davis and Austin Hays, each of whom were moved to the bottom of the lineup thanks to their early-season struggles, played a part in a two-run second inning, and Iglesias drove in another run in the fourth.
By then, Milone had all the support he’d needed. Things got hairy in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases, but a mound visit from pitching coach Doug Brocail did the trick. He got out of the inning with a ground ball on the next pitch.
That put Milone well on his way to six innings of three-hit, shutout baseball. He struggled on Opening Day in Boston, but now hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts — both Orioles wins.
Milone, who has had two stints with the Nationals, said he was glad to give the team what it needed.
“I think it was just a mix of everything tonight that kind of helped — just being unpredictable, staying away from the middle of the plate for the most part, and just limiting the damage,” he said. “Not walking guys, not getting guys on base and letting them have that big hit or that big inning definitely helps.”
“Against a good offensive club, he pitched front-to-back really, really well,” Hyde said. “Pitched with the lead fantastic, and scored some runs for him, and he was throwing strikes. Great, great start for us. One that we needed.”
Travis Lakins Sr. and David Hess finished the shutout with three innings of scoreless relief.
Hyde rattled off a list of names who swung the bat as long as the lineup was, but singled out Iglesias for being in the middle of everything the Orioles did offensively. It’s not the first time.
Iglesias missed a few games with a quadriceps injury, but has done nothing but hit when he’s on the field. He’s batting .455 (15-for-33) with seven doubles in 10 games, exceeding all expectations that came when he was signed in the offseason.
“I don’t think anybody expected that,” Hyde said. “He’s always been a line-drive hitter, a guy that has some sneaky power at times. He’s just off to a good start. We’re still really early into this. But I just like the way he’s swinging the bat right now. I know he’s in a good place. I’ve just got to keep him healthy, and obviously, he’s a major contributor for us offensively and defensively.”
Hyde raved about Iglesias’ middle of the field approach, his “incredible veteran leadership” in the clubhouse when it comes to talking hitting and defense with the young Orioles, and defense at shortstop.
“I feel comfortable,” Iglesias said. “I think I can help this team in so many ways. The bat is one of them.”
Piling it on
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The Orioles chased starter Anibal Sánchez in the sixth inning, but didn’t let up on the Nationals’ bullpen. Núñez drove his third home run in two games into the Orioles’ bullpen in left-center field for a three-run home run in the sixth inning.
The fourth run that inning came on consecutive doubles by Dwight Smith Jr. and Pedro Severino, and the Orioles piled on three more runs in the eighth inning.
Their 19 hits were by far the most this season, and they only bested that total once in all of 2019 — on Aug. 30 at Kansas City. Rio Ruiz, in his return from missing five games with shoulder soreness, was the only starter not to get a hit.
Means mourning father
Orioles All-Star left-hander John Means, who has been on the bereavement list since Wednesday, lost his father Wednesday night and has been back in Kansas City with his family.
Manager Brandon Hyde said he didn’t know when Means would return, with his spot in the rotation due up Sunday against the Washington Nationals.
“We’re going to give him the time he needs to be with his family, and we’ll just be communicating with him the next few days,” Hyde said. “But our hearts are heavy for him and his family for what they’re going through. We’re going to give him the time he needs.”
Around the horn
The Orioles added left-hander Brian González and infielder Gunnar Henderson to the player pool to report to the secondary camp at Bowie, giving them 59 of the 60 player pool spots filled.