Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yanks 9, Ms 2

Some of you may be familiar with the piece I wrote a week and a half ago on Chien-Ming Wang's workload, and how a few bad starts in a row could be blamed on that factor. His start after that article was the Friday game against Boston, which – despite the win – still left me unconvinced that he would be reliable down the stretch. Wang was good against Boston, but not to the level that he demonstrated earlier in the year. But last night had to prove something, right?

I'm actually labeling the results inconclusive. Many of you probably think I'm insane, and I don't blame you. By all appearances, Wang was dominant last night, even racking up five strikeouts, a sure rarity. But you have to consider the team he was facing before you analyze the results. It's no coincidence that Wang has a history of dominating the Mariners; he's an extreme groundball pitcher that relies on his opponents hacking at low pitches and beating them into the dirt. And – surprise, surprise – Seattle is sitting on a team .320 OBP, good for 13th in the American League, ahead of only Tampa Bay.

To clarify, so I don't get angry comments, I'm not saying Wang pitched badly, not by any stretch. Rather, I'm just pointing out that he faced an ideal team at a time when fatigue may be catching up with him. His ability to pitch down the stretch will become more evident next week, when he faces the Tigers. I'm not sure how the pitchers will line up, but I would be ecstatic to see Wang-Verlander. I will also be ecstatic if we get to face Kenny Rogers. But that's all for next week.

What I enjoyed most about the game was that the Yankees managed nine runs on zero home runs. We all love the longball, but to rely on it is to exit the playoffs early. The manufacturing of runs is more impressive when you consider the pitcher, Felix Hernandez, who attains the bulk of his outs via the groundball and the strikeout (an ideal pitcher, in theory). Instead of looking to whale low, sinking pitches over the fence, the Yankees worked with what they were dealt and slapped singles and doubles all over the park. The only downfall of the lack of a longball: 12 men left on base, which has become pretty much commonplace for the Yanks, win or lose.

When you're hitting a stretch like this there's not much to analyze. It's much easier to sit down and write a diatribe after a loss than an article of praise following a win. I'm sure Randy will give us plenty to talk about tonight, though.

Still looking for a columnist to rip this week, so if anyone has read anything that would suggest the author doesn't watch the games, send it my way.