Inter-league play is back in full swing as the Baltimore Orioles square off against their beltway rival Washington Nationals.  The Orioles took 2 of 3 from the Nats a little less than a month ago in Baltimore.  In late May, both cubs were sputtering along a few games under .500.  Both clubs are in similar positions record-wise, but the Nats have won 6 straight games, coming off an impressive sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, and 3B Ryan Zimmerman has been activated.  The Nats look like they are ready to do some damage in this series.

The Orioles, on the other hand, continue their inconsistent play.  They seem to be unable to put together any long stretches of excellent baseball.  Fortunately, aside from their 8-game losing streak in April, they have not had many prolonged periods of bad play.  The Orioles are thankful to have a break from AL East play.  They are 10-18 against divisional opponents.  The Orioles 21-17 record against opponents outside of their division is a good sign heading into this weekend, but they are also only 11-17 on the road.

Again the key for the Orioles in the series will be what kind of pitching they get from their starters.  Is Zach Britton fresh and ready to take the ball this weekend after being skipped to rest his arm?  Will Brian Matusz show some signs of life after three starts where his velocity has been down and his command off?  And what can the Oriole get out of Chris Jakubauskas?  Jakubauskas has been solid in his two starts, but he needs to attack the strike zone more consistently if he plans to hold onto a spot int he rotation.

Another key factor will be how the Orioles adjust to playing in a National League park for the first time this season.  Having Orioles pitchers work on their bunting will be fun to watch, but having Vlad Guerrero spectate for most of the series will not be fun for the Orioles.  Vlad will likely see pinch hitting duties this weekend, but will it be just for the pitchers or will it be for the struggling Derrek Lee.  Lee has been great defensively, but he needs to show some signs of life with the bat.

Looks like it will be a great weekend of weather for baseball.  Enjoy father’s day and the Nats/O’s simulcast.  Here are the pitching match-ups and start times:

Friday, 7:05pm MASNHD
Zach Britton (6-4, 3.18) vs. Jason Marquis (7-2,  3.67)

Saturday, 1:05pm MASNHD
Brian Matusz (1-1, 5.11) vs. Jordan Zimmermann  (4-6, 3.10)

Sunday, 1:35pm MASNHD
Chris Jakubauskas (1-0, 5.09) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 4.25)