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Orioles on deck: What to watch Monday vs. Nationals, plus series matchups

Orioles (20-10) vs. Nationals (21-10)

Where: Camden Yards

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First pitch: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: MASN/105.7 FM

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Starting pitchers: Orioles RHP Kevin Gausman (1-3, 7.55 ERA) vs. Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-0, 1.64 ERA)

Series matchup

Offense (MLB rank)

Runs per game: Orioles (4.40, 19th); Nationals (6.26, first)

Average: Orioles (.250, 14th); Nationals (.285, first)

Home runs: Orioles (36, t-13th); Nationals (50, second)

OPS: Orioles (.708, 22nd); Nationals (.852, first)

Pitching (MLB rank)

Team ERA: Orioles (3.88, 12th); Nationals (4.16, 16th)

Starters' ERA: Orioles (4.09, 14th); Nationals (3.51, fifth)

Bullpen ERA: Orioles (3.58, ninth); Nationals (5.50, 28th)

Fielding (MLB rank)

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Fielding percentage: Orioles (.986, ninth); Nationals (.986, eighth)

Errors: Orioles (16, t-seventh fewest); Nationals (16, t-seventh fewest)

UZR/150: Orioles (-3.2, 21st); Nationals (1.0, 16th)

Defensive runs saved: Orioles (-25, 25th); Nationals (-15, 19th)

What to watch

1. Beltways battle at its best. The Orioles and Nationals come into this week's home-and-home set of series as two of the three best teams in baseball. The Orioles are only a half-game behind the Nats and New York Yankees for the best record in baseball, and have an opportunity to claim that mantle this week. The festivities begin with two games in Baltimore before moving to Nationals Park on Wednesday for two games in Washington.

2. Same question, every five days. Yep. The Orioles are still waiting for the Kevin Gausman who seemed to arrive over the final two months of 2016, and they were forced to wait an extra five days this time after he was oddly ejected in the second inning for hitting Xander Bogaerts with a hanging curveball Wednesday. Gausman has an 11.40 ERA over his past four starts, and now he goes up against the best offense in baseball. Perhaps the one inning in 10 days will do him some good.

3. Welcome Matt. A big part of that offense has been Nats catcher Matt Wieters. It will be awful odd for fans to see Wieters at Camden Yards wearing colors other than orange and black for the first time in his nine seasons. And he has been doing his new team proud, batting .274/.365/.476 with five doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs in 24 games.

Orioles lineup

LF Joey Rickard
CF Adam Jones
3B Manny Machado
RF Mark Trumbo
1B Chris Davis
DH Trey Mancini
2B Jonathan Schoop
SS J.J. Hardy
C Caleb Joseph

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