Orioles & Nationals Clinch; Could There Be a Beltway World Series? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Orioles & Nationals Clinch; Could There Be a Beltway World Series?

Within the space of about 30 minutes, the Washington Nationals clinched the NL East while the Baltimore Orioles clinched the AL East.

The Nats shut out the Atlanta Braves 3-0 at Turner Field. Tanner Roark, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen combined on a five-hit shutout. Ian Desmond drove two of Washington’s three runs.

It is the Nats’ second NL East title in three years. Washington and Atlanta fought tooth and nail for the NL East in the first half of the season, but the Nats took over first place on July 21st and never looked back. The Nats went 33-20 while the Braves went 21-32 over the same period. 

Although Bryce Harper is the best known member of the Nationals, he was hurt much of the season and had been struggling up until recently. The lion’s share of the Nationals’ offense has been supplied by Desmond, Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth. Each of them have driven in at least 80 runs. Throw in Denard Span hitting around .300 and 31stolen bases into the mix. Roark, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are a solid starting four. If Gio Gonzalez gets his act back together then watch out. Rafael Soriano struggled after the All-Star Break, but Storen regained his old form as the closer. This combination enabled Washington to win the NL East by 12 1/2 games.

Meanwhile, the O’s beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 to win their first AL East title since 1997 winning the division by 13 1/2 games over the Jays. Journeyman Steve Pearce hit his 18th HR of the season; a three run shot in the first inning. 

The Orioles were in first place during the middle of May, but then lost 11 of 19 games putting them 6 1/2 games back of the Jays on June 6th. Less than a month later, Baltimore took first place and never relinquished it. Since July 5th, the Orioles are 61-31 effectively winning 2 out of every 3 games they play. And they did this without Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and now Chris Davis (owing to that silly 25-game suspension he received for Adderol). The O’s really don’t have a superstar. Yes, Nelson Cruz has 39 HR and Adam Jones has had an All-Star caliber season, but it’s been players like Pearce and Nick Hundley that have made the difference. Wei-Yen Chen’s 16 wins have made him the ace of the staff followed by solid campaigns by Chris Tillman and Bud Norris. Who would have thought Zach Britton would have 35 saves? Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and ex-Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller have been solid set up men. 

With the Orioles and Nationals clinching tonight, I cannot help but think that we could have a Beltway World Series. There was a Beltway World Series when the Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies in five games back in 1983. But a Beltway Series between Baltimore and Washington would be much bigger. After all, the Orioles haven’t won the brass ring since ’83 and no Washington team has been in a World Series since 1933. The Washington Senators won their lone World Series title in 1924 when they bested the New York Giants in seven games.

Then again, the O’s and Nats clinch their divisions with nearly two weeks left in the regular season. With no pressure games to be played, Baltimore and Washington could lose their edge and find themselves being eliminated in the Division Series as both teams were two years ago. But both teams are far more dominant than they were in 2012. Expect both the Orioles and Nationals to go farther this year.

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