Playing in the nation’s capital for the first time since facing the Senators in 1971, Cleveland (42-29) is coming off a 10-6 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday to take two of three in that series.
Casey Blake went 2-for-5 with a two-run single in an eight-run sixth inning to put the Indians ahead. It came two days after his 26-game hitting streak was snapped.
The Indians, who scored 26 runs against the Phillies, are hitting .271 in interleague play and .274 overall. Cleveland is just 8-7 against the NL, but has won three of four.
Fausto Carmona (8-2, 3.12 ERA) looks to continue his emergence as one of baseball’s brightest young pitching stars when he takes the mound for the Indians. The right-hander is 8-1 with a 2.62 ERA in his last 11 starts and is second on the club in wins behind C.C. Sabathia’s 10.
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge thinks the 23-year-old Carmona should receive consideration for next month’s All-Star Game.
“I do think he deserves to make it,” Wedge said. “He’s earned it.”
Carmona, who opened the season in the rotation in place of the injured Cliff Lee and stuck around after Jake Westbrook was hurt, allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of the Indians’ 5-2 win over Atlanta on Sunday.
“He has a bright future. I was really impressed with him,” Atlanta’s Chipper Jones said of Carmona, who is 1-1 with a 3.21 against the NL this season, but has never faced the Nationals.
Washington (30-42), meanwhile, looks to avoid a fourth consecutive loss after losing 8-4 to Detroit on Wednesday. The Nationals were outscored 32-13 while being swept by the Tigers, who are tied with the Indians for the AL Central lead.
“They have a great hitting club,” Washington’s Micah Bowie (4-2, 3.78), who gets the start on the mound in the opener, said of the Indians. “We have our work cut out for us.”
Washington, which is 7-8 in interleague action, has lost five of six against the AL. The Nationals have a 5.23 ERA against the AL, nearly one-half run higher than their overall mark.
“Hopefully, we can stop this skid that we are in - this is a fresh start, it’s a new day,” said Bowie, who’s 4-0 with a 3.82 ERA in six starts since joining an injury-riddled roatation. He allowed two runs and four hits in six innings while striking out six in a 4-2 win at Toronto on Sunday.
The left-hander did not allow a run in 2 2-3 innings of relief against the Indians - all in 2002 while with Oakland.
Though the Nationals are 2-7 at home this month, Dmitri Young continues to hit the ball well. Young, who is among the NL leaders with a .336 average, is batting .390 (30-for-77) with three homers and 11 RBIs in June.
Young also is batting .358 (19-for-53) with six doubles and a homer in 12 interleague games this year.