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Interleague a test of Orioles' depth

Interleague a test of Orioles' depth

NEW YORK -- Welcome to the land of double-switches and pitchers hitting. The Orioles will kick off Interleague Play on Friday with the Battle of the Beltways, a three-game series against their natural rival, the Washington Nationals. The first three games will take place in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore manager Dave Trembley is ready for them.

"It's a different game when you go to a National League park," Trembley said. "There's no designated hitter, and there's a little more emphasis on the starting pitcher. You've got to have a bench in order to make some moves. You've got to do the things out of the bullpen situationally to match up and give yourself a chance. It's fun to manage."

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Trembley will have significantly more fun if his team can break its four-game losing skid, and he'll turn to southpaw Rich Hill for that purpose on Friday. Hill, who spent most of his career in the NL, is one of Baltimore's best pitchers at handling the bat and will give Trembley one less thing to worry about.

The Orioles hope to get shortstop Cesar Izturis back before the end of the weekend, and his healthy return would allow Trembley to play some normal substitution patterns. Trembley had to play Ty Wigginton at shortstop for the first time in his career on Thursday, an experiment that went off without a hitch.

Baltimore is also waiting for designated hitter Luke Scott to return from a shoulder injury, but fittingly, the veteran won't be eligible to come back until after the Orioles return home to Camden Yards. Baltimore is in the midst of a 16-game stretch without an off-day, a segment of the calendar that sorely tests the manager.

The Orioles wont get a day off until June 4, giving them a clear and concise rallying point.

"You need production out of everybody," said Trembley, stressing the importance of a diverse bench. "Somebody that hasn't been doing so well now has an opportunity to step up and pick each other up. You'd like to get your full squad back. You'd like to be playing at full strength, but over the course of a long season, everybody goes through it. You have to have role players, and you need those players to be productive and contribute. If you get that, when all is said and done, you can look back and the success will be there for you."

Pitching matchup
BAL: LHP Rich Hill (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
Hill made his long-awaited Orioles debut a memorable one last Saturday, when he worked 5 2/3 innings and picked up a 3-2 win in Kansas City. Hill allowed seven hits and two runs while fanning six and walking two. His sweeping curve impressed the Royals' hitters, and Trembley lauded the poise shown by Hill.

WSH: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 6.35 ERA)
Zimmermann's struggles on the mound continued in his last start, when he lasted five innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. The Phillies scored three runs in the first inning to take an early lead, marking the fifth consecutive game Zimmermann allowed at least one run in the first.

Bird bites
Wigginton provided Baltimore's first pinch-hit of the season on Thursday night. Baltimore had previously been 0-for-16 in pinch-hit situations and was the last team in the Majors to collect one. ... The Orioles have lost 12 of their past 15 games in New York and have been swept by the Yankees in 11 of the past 12 years. ... Adam Jones has batted safely in 19 of his past 22 games, batting .376 (35-for-93) over that span. ... Nick Markakis broke a three-game hitless streak with a home run on Thursday. Three of his seven homers have come against New York.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MASN 2 HD

On radio
• 105.7 The Fan

Up next
• Saturday: Orioles (Koji Uehara, 2-3, 4.34) at Nationals (Ross Detwiler, 0-0, 3.60), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 1-2, 5.35) at Nationals (Shairon Martis, 5-0, 4.53), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 3-4, 5.37) vs. Blue Jays (Brett Cecil, 2-1, 4.38), 1:35 p.m. ET

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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