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Series preview: Yankees at Nationals

Nicholas Santoriello

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Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka has held opponents to a .198 average on the road this season. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)

Their 7-2 homestand in the books, and a day off enjoyed on Monday, the Yankees get back to business on Tuesday night in Washington, starting a two-game series with the Nationals. Both teams have been hot, as the defending National League East champions won six of seven on their just-completed western swing, capped by a four-game sweep of the division-leading Diamondbacks.

Masahiro Tanaka will be on the bump for the Bombers in game one. Tanaka has been pretty good recently, with three quality starts in his last four outings for a 2-0 record and 3.38 ERA. The righthander picked up a win the last time these two teams faced off in June 2015, going seven innings while only giving up one run.

For Washington, it will be Gio Gonzalez taking the ball to oppose Tanaka. Despite his overall success, Gonzalez does not have good numbers against the Yankees. In eight career starts against the Bombers, the lefty is 1-5 with a 6.65 ERA. However, this is a different Yankees team with only four players having history hitting off Gonzalez. Former NL East foe Giancarlo Stanton has the most experience, with a .214 average in 28 at-bats and one RBI. Gonzalez is also pitching very well lately, with only two runs given up in his last 18 innings to go along with 21 strikeouts.

Game two will be a tough matchup for the Yanks as CC Sabathia will toe the rubber against three-time Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. Scherzer has been his usual self this season with a 7-1 record and a 1.69 ERA through nine starts. The 33-year-old is also on pace to lead the National League in strikeouts for the third straight season, a feat that has only been accomplished three times since 1950, when Warren Spahn led the NL is strikeouts four straight seasons.

Sabathia has been effective for the Yankees despite only pitching into the seventh inning in one of his seven starts. The 37-year-old lefthander has held opponents to a .225 batting average against, the lowest in his career.  He will also get a chance to swing the bat, something Sabathia has always enjoyed in his career, with a .212 average and three home runs.

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