WASHINGTON -- The Baltimore Orioles arrive in D.C. Monday night to square off with the Washington Nationals in one of the most relevant Battle of the Beltways matchups ever between the two teams. The clubs will play four straight days, heading to Camden Yards Wednesday for the final two games.
Baltimore is the surprising front-runner in the American League East, sporting a 2.0-game cushion over the Toronto Blue Jays and 3.5 over the New York Yankees. The Nationals, meanwhile, are just a half-game back of the first place Atlanta Braves and would make the postseason as the second NL Wild Card club if the season ended today.
Both teams are coming off series victories, with the O's taking two-of-three from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and the Nats doing the same at home against the Chicago Cubs over the Fourth of July weekend.
Only in 2012 were both teams so equally well-positioned entering the matchup. That year, the teams played dual three-game sets, with the Orioles first visiting the Nationals May 18-20. Baltimore entered that series up one game in the AL East, and the Nationals were the same half-game back from the Braves.
The Orioles continue to hold the edge since the series began in 2006, winning 26 of the 46 contests. Baltimore is 15-8 in Battle of the Beltways games played at played at Camden Yards, while the Nationals were 3-3 at RFK Stadium and are 9-8 at Nationals Park. Washington has only won the season series once, when the Nats took four of the six contests in 2007.
The Orioles already took the glamour title of sending more All-Star representatives to this year's Midsummer Classic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Outfielders Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz were both voted in by fans to start the game for the AL, along with catcher Matt Wieters, who has played just 26 games this year and is out for the season with an elbow injury. Wieters will be replaced in the starting lineup by Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
The Nationals, meanwhile, will send only pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who will represent the club for the second straight year. Zimmermann will be the lone Nationals starting pitcher who will not appear in the Battle of the Beltways, as he started Sunday's 2-1 win over the Cubs.
Washington has a chance to add an additional All-Star, as infielder Anthony Rendon was selected to be among the five Final Vote candidates in the NL. However, the Nationals had a player reach the Final Vote each of the last five years -- Ian Desmond in '13, Bryce Harper in '12, Mike Morse in '11, Ryan Zimmerman in '10 and Cristian Guzman in '09 -- but never saw that player selected to the game.
WTOP will have feature stories from both beltway teams throughout the week, as well as a look at the best food from both ballparks.
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