Surging Yankees, Nationals meet in D.C.
(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees have won six in a row. The Washington Nationals have also won six straight.
Something has to give tonight when the two division leaders square off in the first of three interleague games at Nationals Park.
Thanks to wins in 16 of their last 20 games the Yankees sit atop the American League East standings. The Nationals have been equally hot, winning nine of their last 11 to swell their lead in the National League East to 4 1/2 games.
Both teams have dominated their opponents' divisions, as the Yankees come into tonight's tilt following sweeps of the Mets and Atlanta Braves, while the Nationals broke out the brooms on both the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
Tonight, the Yankees turn to righty Phil Hughes, who has won his last three decisions. Hughes was terrific in beating the Mets on Saturday, as he held them to two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 frames to up his record to 6-5 on the year to go along with a 4.76 ERA.
Hughes is 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA over his last seven starts and has allowed three runs or less in all but one of those outings.
"Starting pitching has been the key," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said after Hughes' last start. "That's baseball for you. We feel really good about our starting pitching right now, and because of that, we can just go out there, play defense and score enough runs to win the game."
This will be Hughes' first-ever start against the Nats, who will counter with a terrific left-hander in Gio Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, posting an 8-2 mark with a 2.35 ERA. Gonzalez bounced back from a loss to Atlanta on June 3 to beat the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, limiting them to two runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings.
He has faced the Yankees five times, but is just 1-4 against them with a 7.27 ERA.
On the injury front, the Nationals should have first baseman Adam LaRoche back tonight. LaRoche sat out Wednesday's win over Toronto after fouling a ball off his right foot on Tuesday.
"I think he'll be fine, [but] he hit it pretty good," manager Davey Johnson said before Wednesday's game. "This field is pretty hard, so might as well give him today."
The Yankees are also expected to have All-Star reliever David Robertson available tonight. He has been on the disabled list since May 15 with an oblique injury. However, Rafael Soriano is expected to stay in the role as closer.
The Nationals have won four of six meetings with the Yankees since moving the franchise from Montreal to Washington for the 2005 season.