The first installment of 2010’s Beltway Series between the Orioles and Nationals begins tonight at Nationals Park. The three-game set features two teams on very different levels. Usually when these two teams meet, both are bringing up the bottom of their respective divisions. While the O’s are holding up their end of the bargain, the Nats are sitting right around .500 and surprising the baseball world thus far this season. The biggest difference with the Nats this season is their ability to win one-run games (eight). The O’s, on the other hand, have only 13 wins total and can’t seem to figure out how to score with runners in scoring position. But no matter their records, when these two teams get together it’s usually a very entertaining series.

Friday, May 21, 7:05pm
Orioles – David Hernandez (0-5, 5.84 ERA)
Nationals – Scott Olsen (2-1, 3.15 ERA)

This will be the toughest pitching matchup for the O’s in the series considering the recent success of Nats’ starter Scott Olsen. After struggling in his first two starts this season, Olsen has bounced back very nicely and has only allowed two or fewer runs in his last five outings. He has been a pleasant surprise for the Nats this season and gives them a nice option at the top of their rotation. With the inconsistency of the O’s bats coming into town, Olsen has a good shot of continuing his recent success on the mound. Hernandez goes for the O’s in the first game of the series and still hasn’t won a game since last August. His time in the starting rotation is almost up considering he simply hasn’t been able to get batters out on a consistent basis. Hopefully he can get it going against the Nats and keep his spot in the rotation.

Saturday, May 22, 4:05pm
Orioles – Brad Bergesen (3-3, 5.45 ERA)
Nationals – Craig Stammen (1-2, 5.86 ERA)

Bergesen has been pitching very well since he was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk at the beginning of May. He has only given up four earned runs in the last 21 innings he’s pitched, but broke his three-game winning streak with his most recent outing, a 4-3 loss to the Royals. I’ve said this before, but I think Bergesen is going to be very good in this league and I look forward to every time he takes the mound. Stammen has struggled thus far this season and is in jeopardy of being sent back to Triple-A especially with the success that No.1 pick Stephen Strasburg has been having lately. The O’s should be able to tag him for at least a few runs, which should be enough for Bergesen with the way he’s been pitching.

Sunday, May 23, 1:35pm
Orioles – Kevin Millwood (0-4, 3.65 ERA)
Nationals – John Lannan (1-2, 6.02 ERA)

Millwood has been the recipient of some bad breaks this season. When he pitches well, he gets virtually no run support. He seems to cruise through consecutive innings without allowing any runs, but always has that one bad inning that gets him in trouble. This was the case Tuesday against the Royals. Millwood didn’t allow a base runner for the first four innings, but then in the fifth he gave up three runs on five hits. He still had a strong outing, though, going eight innings and putting the O’s in position to win the game. There was a time when Lannan was almost unbeatable at home, but that time has since passed. His control, which is what made him effective over the past two seasons, is nowhere to be found. If he can figure out how to get his command back, he should be fine. Let’s just hope it’s not this weekend.

Submitted by Steve Giles