BALTIMORE -- The Washington Nationals, currently enjoying a big lead in the National League East standings, will end a three-city road trip on Monday.
But manager Dusty Baker and his club certainly won't have far to go as the Nationals play Monday and Tuesday against the Orioles in Baltimore.
Washington ended a four-game series on Sunday in Atlanta and then flew back to the nation's capital region. That will give them an easy drive north to Charm City for their first game of the season against the Orioles, who ended a four-game home series on Sunday against the Houston Astros after rain delayed the first pitch.
The Nationals and Orioles will then play Wednesday and Thursday in Washington. A few years ago in interleague play, the teams would each host a three-game weekend series against the other, but that has fallen by the wayside with the challenges of interleague scheduling.
"The Orioles have a dynamic offense. It's going to be a challenge," Baker told reporters in Atlanta after a 10-inning, 7-6 loss Sunday to the Braves. The Nationals are in the midst of playing games 20 days in a row.
"We were dragging as it was coming in," Baker said. "Sometimes it's a blessing in disguise. We go to Baltimore and then have Colorado and Philly after that. We're half way through this 20-game streak. ... This has been a tough road trip. We've just got to regroup in Baltimore and put this behind us."
Dylan Bundy is slated to start on Monday for the Orioles against Washington's A.J. Cole, who was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to replace fellow right-hander Stephen Strasburg. The 28-year-old Strasburg was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday afternoon with right elbow soreness.
Cole, 24, is 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 22 starts for Syracuse this season. He has a 5.79 ERA in three appearances (one start) for the Nationals, all recorded in 2015.
Bundy is coming off a rough start after he allowed five runs at home on Wednesday to the Boston Red Sox.
Last season the Orioles were 1-2 at home against Washington while Baltimore won all three games at Nationals Park as Darren O'Day, pressed into service as the closer, saved all three contests. O'Day is currently on the disabled list with a right shoulder rotator cuff strain, which put him on the DL August 13.
On July 10 of last year, Jonathan Schoop had the first walk-off homer of his career in the bottom of the ninth off Nationals reliever Tanner Roark to give the Orioles the win. Roark is now back in the starting rotation for the Nationals.
On July 12 of last year, Max Scherzer started on the mound for Washington while Wei-Yin Chen got the start for the Orioles in Baltimore. Washington won that game 3-2 even though Adam Jones hit two homers for the Orioles.
The Orioles lost 5-3 at home Sunday to Houston and lost three of four in the series.
The game began after a rain delay of four hours and five minutes and then there was a 30-minte rain delay after the first inning.
"I don't know what would have happened if this wasn't their last trip in here," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Houston. "We've gone down the road with playing on off days and stuff and that's a challenge. We're not the only team going through it."
"I think about our grounds crew that stood out there in the rain for about 20 minutes or however long it was. They did a great job with the field. I was a little surprised they (Astros) were complaining some about the field. I thought it was in ... They do a great job."
The weather forecast for Monday in Baltimore is very good, with sunshine and a high of 82 degrees.
The Orioles are 23-14 at home against Washington and lead the overall series 39-32. The largest crowd to see the teams play at Camden Yards was 48,331 on June 23, 2006.