BOSTON, MA - JUNE 8: Bryce Harper (34) of the Washington Nationals connects for a two run home run against Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning at Fenway Park June 8, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The American League East-leading New York Yankees (37-25) get a look at one of the rising powerhouses in the National League this weekend. The Yankees travel to the nation's capital for a three-game interleague series with the National League East-leading Washington Nationals (38-23).
Both teams have won six consecutive games. The Yankees lead the AL East by a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles. Washington leads the NL East by 4.5 games over the New York Mets.
The first game of the series is Friday at Nationals Park beginning at 7:05 p.m ET (TV: MY9, MLB Network). Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35 ERA) pitches for Washington against Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76). Hughes has allowed just three runs on 10 hits over 15 1/3 innings during his last two starts.
The Yankees will miss Washington ace Stephen Strasburg in this series. On Saturday (1:05 p.m.) Andy Petttitte (3-2, 281) pitches for the Yankees and Jordan Zimmerman (3-5, 2.91) for Washington. On Sunday (1:35 p.m.), Ivan Nova of the Yankees (8-2, 4.64) pitches against Washington's Edwin Jackson (3-3, 3.02).
The Yankees are familiar with Gonzalez, an excellent 26-year-old obtained by Washington in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. Gonzalez, however, has not fared well against the Yankees. In five career starts against them he is 1-4 with a 7.27 ERA.
The series will give the Yankees -- and their fans -- a chance to see Bryce Harper, the exciting Nationals outfielder who is baseball's youngest big-leaguer at just 19 years of age. Harper is hitting .303 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in 41 games.
This should be an entertaining weekend of baseball as the highly-paid, veteran Yankees try to hold off the young, talented Nationals.