Yanks turn to Hughes for opener vs. NatsBombers, Nationals both riding six-game winning streaks
One team’s six-game winning streak will come to an end when the New York Yankees take on the Washington Nationals in the first game of a three-game weekend set Friday night.
In their first-ever game at the new Nationals Park, the Yankees will send Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76) to the mound to oppose Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35), hoping that Hughes can keep the starting rotation’s roll going and take down the top team in the NL East.
Back-to-back sweeps of the Mets and Braves have given the Yankees that six-game winning streak, and Wednesday night’s win in Atlanta gave the Bombers a sparkling 10-2 record in June – a mark which has its genesis in the aforementioned starting rotation.
Since the calendar turned to the year’s sixth month, Yankees starters have gone 9-1 with a 2.13 ERA, and even if they’ve labored (as Hiroki Kuroda did on Wednesday) or not had their best stuff (something CC Sabathia admitted to on Tuesday night), they’ve found a way to win.
Hughes himself has been up and down this season, but has thrown three quality starts in his last four outings and is responsible for two of the rotation’s nine wins this month, including a complete game in Detroit on June 3.
However, Hughes and the Yankees won’t be getting any favors from their opponents this weekend, who enter the series with a 4 ½ game lead in the NL East thanks in part to the Bombers.
The Nationals return home after their own back-to-back sweeps in Boston and Toronto, a streak that when combined with the Yankees’ results, has widened their NL East lead from a one-game margin over the Braves on June 8 to a 4 ½-game mark over the now second-place Mets heading into Friday.
Washington’s 2.94 team ERA is tops in the majors, and Gio Gonzalez’ 2.35 mark is tops among Washington starters. Acquired from Oakland in the offseason, the 26-year-old has perhaps been even better than phenom Stephen Strasburg (who the Yankees won’t see this weekend), and will need to be on top of his game against a team that leads the Majors in home runs with 96 and is in the Top 10 in both batting average and runs scored.
Interleague play has been very good for the Yankees, who are 7-2 against the National League this season and have an MLB-high 164 wins all-time against the senior circuit ... but will all that be enough for the Bombers to take down the Beasts of the other East this weekend?