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August 24, 2006

Wang > King
by SG

West Coast trips are always a mixed bag for me. In some ways they bring back fond memories, like being in bed listening to an AM radio when I was supposed to be asleep as a kid, but they also bring back memories of some painful losses. Years later, and that hasn't changed. I stay up for almost every Yankee game on the West Coast. When they lose, I get really annoyed at myself for doing it, but when they win, like they did in last night's 9-2 victory, it doesn't seem so bad.

Despite scoring seven runs off the highly touted Felix Hernandez and two more off Joel Pineiro who relieved him, the hero of the game was Chien-Ming Wang. Wang had been pretty bad over his last three starts, pitching 16 1/3 innings, allowing 27 hits, 3 HRs, 8 BB, and 6 K. These starts coincided with Wang passing his career high for innings pitched in a season which was a concern for me. If I had to guess, Wang was going through a tired arm phase, as his stuff was flatter over those last three games. He had much better velocity last night, hitting 96-97 consistently on Seattle's broadcast and with a 90 mph slider with very good bite. As you can see from his pitch chart below, Wang was working up in the zone a lot more yesterday, which is not something he typically wants to do.

Pitching well against Seattle is not really that impressive. If you look at the OPS+ of the teams in the AL, they're 12th out of 14.

However, it was a good sign to see Wang getting over his recent struggles. I'd still like to see him get a bit of rest over the rest of the season if the Yankees can afford it, although Mike Mussina going to the DL complicates things.

On the offensive side, Bobby Abreu continues to excel, getting two hits and walking twice yesterday. After Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter made two outs on five pitches leading off the first, Abreu singled on the fifth pitch he saw, Jason Giambi worked a five pitch walk, and then Jorge Posada followed with an 8 pitch walk. Suddenly, an easy first inning had become a nightmare for Felix Hernandez, who then gave up a two run single to Robinson Cano. Cano went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI, and is hitting .343/.380 /.657 since returning from the DL.

Mike Myers and Octavio Dotel mopped up for Wang, and both were effective. I have no problem with Myers pitching to righties with a seven run lead. His motion is apparently easy on his arm so he's not a bad choice to use in mopup from time to time. Dotel also looked pretty good, although his control is still a little bit shaky.

On the injury front, as I mentioned earlier, Moose was DL'ed. I think this is smart, it's pretty apparent the groin has been bothering him for while lately. Hideki Matsui was cleared to hit off a batting tee, and Gary Sheffield is probably at least three weeks away from swinging a bat, which makes a return this season rather unlikely.

Randy Johnson (14-9, 4.98) vs. Jarrod Washburn (6-12, 4.43) tonight. RJ can pitch a good game at any time, but I never expect it.