Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
The Washington Nationals just finished taking three of four games in Atlanta as they continue to run away with the National League East. The interleague rival Baltimore Orioles are engaged in a much tighter race in the American League East and will try to gain some ground at the expense of the Nationals when they host the opener of a four-game, home-and-home series on Monday.
Washington missed out on a four-game sweep of the Braves after a 7-6 loss in 10 innings on Sunday and saw their lead over the Miami Marlins in the NL East slip to 8 1/2 games. The best thing to happen for the Nationals during their current trip (4-3) is Bryce Harper emerging out of a lengthy slump by going 11-for-27 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in the seven games. The Orioles have dropped five of six to open their eight-game homestand and watched the pitching staff surrender an average of 8.3 runs in those six contests. The slide dropped Baltimore 2 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and leaves it one game ahead of the Seattle Mariners for the second AL wild card.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.59 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Dylan Bundy (6-4, 3.36)
Strasburg made it all the way to the All-Star break without suffering a loss but has dropped four of his last six starts, including three in a row. The former No. 1 pick has gotten progressively worse in those last three turns, culminating with a disaster at Colorado on Wednesday in which he was ripped for nine runs on nine hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings. Strasburg tossed seven scoreless innings at Cleveland on July 27 in his last chance against an AL opponent and is 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA in four interleague starts this season.
Bundy had been sharp since moving into the starting rotation before running into the best offense in the league against Boston on Wednesday. The 23-year-old had been moved up a day in the rotation in place of Chris Tillman and was ripped by the Red Sox for five runs and nine hits – two home runs – in 4 1/3 innings to suffer a loss. Bundy is getting his first taste of the Beltway Series and is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in three interleague games – two starts.
1. Orioles LHP T.J. McFarland was held out of a rehab appearance on Sunday and could be activated off the disabled list prior to Monday’s contest.
2. Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-8 with a homer and three runs scored in two games since coming off the DL.
3. Baltimore RF Mark Trumbo homered in three of the last four games to push his league-leading total to 37.
PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Orioles 2