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Yankees, Nationals meet in short series in Washington

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New York Yankees' Neil Walker hits a walk off game winning RBI single in the 11th inning against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
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By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange, UPI

The two hottest teams in baseball meet briefly when the New York Yankees visit Washington for games Tuesday and Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

The Yankees defeated the Oakland A's 6-2 on Sunday and have won 19 of their last 22 games. New York (28-12) has won its last seven series and is tied with Boston for the best record in baseball.

"I'm really excited where we're at. But it's a long, long way to go," Yankees manager Aaron Boone told the New York Daily News. "I feel we've had our share of adversity and handled it really well. From a record standpoint, we're in a really good position, but you always temper it with it's a quarter of the season."

Washington (24-18), meanwhile, has won 13 of 15 after sweeping a four-game series from Arizona to complete a 6-1 road trip. Their eight-game homestand also includes three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and three against the San Diego Padres.

"I keep saying these guys play with a lot of heart, and it's been a lot of fun," manager Dave Martinez told mlb.com. "They are really starting to click, and I love coming to the ballpark and watching them play."

New York's Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.66 ERA) opposes Washington's Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.22) in the opener.

Tanaka has struggled in his last two starts -- no decisions against Houston and Boston -- giving up seven runs and 13 hits in 11 1/3 innings.

"Obviously, we are doing something special here," Tanaka told the New York Post after the Yankees defeated Boston 9-6 last Wednesday. "When you look at me personally, I can do a better job. Hopefully, I come back strong the next outing."

Tanaka won his only previous start against the Nationals.

Gonzalez is 2-0 in his last three starts and has allowed just two runs in 18 innings.

The left-hander spent his first four seasons with the Oakland A's and is 1-5 with a 6.65 ERA in eight starts against the Yankees, but he has not faced them since 2015.

Giancarlo Stanton enjoyed Nationals Park as a Marlin, producing a .287/.336/.651 slash line, 20 homers and 41 RBIs in 55 games. Now he seems to be heating up for New York.

Stanton went 4-for-4 with three RBIs in Sunday's win, including a home run. In his last six games, he is 9-for-23 with three home runs and seven RBIs and enters Tuesday with 999 career hits.

"A lot of quality at-bats by him," Yankees manager Aaron Boone told mlb.com. "Just very happy with the work he's put in -- the hard work behind the scenes, the grind you see day in and day out from him -- and when it gets rewarded I love that."

Another Yankee heating up is Brett Gardner, who is 11-for-33 in his past nine games.

Washington got instant offense from a new face on Sunday. Playing in the home park of the team that drafted him in 2004, Mark Reynolds homered twice in his first game since joining the Nationals on Saturday.

Reynolds, 34, signed with Washington on April 17 and was called up from Triple-A Syracuse when first baseman Ryan Zimmerman went on the disabled list. Reynolds singled in his first at-bat.

"The first at-bat, I was a little nervous," Reynolds told mlb.com. "New team. Trying to make a good impression. Got the first hit out of the way, and then I kind of settled down and was able to relax and play the game I've been playing for a long time."

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Yankees, Nationals meet in short series in Washington
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