As the Baltimore Orioles' early-season woes continue, especially at the plate, they will be running into something they probably won't want to see: the Washington Nationals and their strong starting staff.
The two teams begin a three-game series Monday with a Memorial Day matinee at Camden Yards. Alex Cobb (1-6, 7.32 ERA) has gotten off to a disappointing start in his first year with the Orioles, and the right-hander will go against left-hander Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.38).
The injury-plagued Nationals have spent the first two months trying to right the ship, and Washington (29-22) has played much better this past week. After taking two of three from San Diego, the Nationals swept three from the Marlins in Miami.
Washington will start Gonzalez, who has pitched well this season. However, he hasn't been as successful against the Orioles with a 1-6 record and a 4.40 ERA.
The left-hander's lone career victory with the Orioles came in 2009 while pitching for the Oakland A's.
Cobb is looking for something to go right. The Orioles signed him late in spring training, and he just hasn't found his way yet.
The right-hander has gotten knocked around pretty hard at times but has shown flashes of his past form. So the Orioles are hopeful he can get back to that soon, and this will be his first career appearance against the Nationals.
Washington comes to town after the sweep of Miami, which they finished with a 5-2 victory on Sunday. Manager Dave Martinez wants to see the Nationals keep going this way.
"We're playing really well," he said in a postgame press conference Sunday. "It's not easy to come in (to Miami) versus that team and sweep. We've just got to come out (Monday) and do the same thing."
Bryce Harper hit another homer for the Nationals, his 16th of the year. That led the National League at that moment and could be the spark to get him out of a recent slide.
MLB.com reported that Harper had been hitting just. 200 in the 30 games before Sunday's win. It will be interesting to see if the homer helps get him restarted again.
"That was a bomb," Martinez said with a smile.
The Orioles (17-36), meanwhile, also are searching for offense, something they've been doing for long parts of this season. They found some Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, scoring three runs in the first inning, one of which came on a Craig Gentry bunt with the bases loaded.
But that was all they could do as the Rays rallied for an 8-3 victory.
"We scored (those) three early; we didn't do anything after that," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said in a postgame MASN interview.
The Orioles lost two of three to the Rays and scored just six runs in the process. Andrew Cashner and Kevin Gausman both got roughed up in their starts on Saturday and Sunday as Baltimore lost both of those games.
The Birds could get a lift Monday with the possible return of Mark Trumbo. A knee injury has kept him out since Tuesday, but The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday that Showalter said Trumbo could be ready to go Monday.