Home Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals Beltway Series rivalry may be heating up

Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals Beltway Series rivalry may be heating up

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Photo: Scott German/AFP

Heading into Tuesday night’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, had the season ended Monday, both teams would have been in the playoffs.

The two young teams renewed their rivalry with a brief two-game set in Nationals Park with Washington blanking Baltimore 3-0 Tuesday night, and the Orioles earning a split with an exciting 7-6, 12-inning victory Wednesday.

Tuesday’s announced attendance was just over 29,000, while Wednesday’s attendance topped 34,000, pretty solid for a mid-week series.

Tip your cap to the Orioles fan base for helping to swell those numbers, as the familiar Baltimore Orange and Black was all over the stadium.

And to think back just a few years ago, getting that many Oriole fans to Camden Yards would have been an accomplishment.

Last year’s Beltway Series highlighted teams traveling in opposite directions.

Baltimore, a team loaded with talent, who would proceed to win 101 regular-season games and the American League East title, swept Washington in the four-game season series.

The Nationals scored just one run in the four games and appeared totally overmatched.

Washington finished the season last in the National League East, for a fourth consecutive season.

What a difference an offseason has made for the Nationals.

I’ll admit, as an Orioles fan, I don’t study the Washington roster that closely.

Or really at all.

But being in attendance for the series, it was easy to see this a different Nationals team than what I saw in 2023.

First, there’s that shortstop, C.J. Abrams.

He’s fast.

In 2023 fast was about it for Abrams.

At the plate in 2023, he was competent with the bat; this season he’s added power.

Coming into Tuesday night’s contest, he led the team in batting average, homers, and slugging.

He’s posting All-Star numbers.

For Washington, there’s more.

Rookie Jacob Young is quick on the bases as well, and Washington manager Davey Martinez doesn’t hold them back.

In Tuesday’s 3-0 win, Washington swiped four bases on All-Star Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman.

The Nationals are ahead of their rebuild timeline, or so it seems.

In a scheduling quirk, Washington has played more games against AL East teams (5) than against NL East teams (3).

Washington’s front office only needed to look at Baltimore for a blueprint to success.

The Orioles suffered through five straight losing seasons from 2017 to 2021. But the losing paid dividends.

Baltimore stockpiled a mountain of top prospects and built the game’s top farm system in the process.

Last season, despite being swept in the opening round of the playoffs by Texas, the Orioles soared to the top of the AL East, regarded by many as the toughest division in Major League Baseball.

Washington, like Baltimore, competes in an ultra-rich division, and building an elite farm system is imperative to the club’s long-term success.

This season, both organizations are welcoming in a new era.

After 30 years, the Angelos family sold the Orioles to native Baltimorean billionaire David Rubenstein.

After two years of speculation, the Lerner family announced this spring that they were no longer looking to sell the Nationals.

With the ownership groups set for the future of both clubs, it’s full steam ahead.

Baltimore has the pieces in place to be strong contenders for years to come.

Washington suddenly appears poised as well.

Watch out Subway Series, the Beltway Series is catching up.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.

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