In and of themselves, the 2 2/3 innings of 4ER ball Chien Ming Wang threw last night weren't as bad at the 2 2/3 wherein A.J. Burnett gave up 5 runs the night before. Unfortunately for the Yankees though, baseball games don't occur in a vacuum and the latest in a series of slow motion trainwrecks for the formerly dominant sinkerballer could have far-reaching implications.
All signs pointed to the Yankees turning it around last night at Fenway. They were due. Going winless in their last six appearances against the Sox was fluky and it was about time they got on the board. After a marginal outing against Texas, Wang seemed poised to right the ship. Neither of those things happened.
CMW stumbled right out of the gate. He walked J.D. Drew and Youk back to back in the first inning setting up an RBI single by Jason Bay. What was probably worse than the fact that he allowed a run was that he faced seven batters and used up 29 pitches. For a pitcher that still wasn't fully stretched out, it was an ominous beginning.
Jorge Posada tied it with a solo shot in the top of the 2nd, but the Sox opened up their half of the inning by going single, double, double and driving in two more runs. Wang retired the next three batters in a row, but a 9 pitch battle with the Fackin' Youkstah helped drive his pitch count to 58 after only two innings. Wang gave up a homer to Mike Lowell to lead off the 3rd which most likely sealed his fate. He was pulled in favor of Phil Hughes despite having just struck out Nick Green for the second out of the third inning.
69 pitches, 39 strikes, 5 earned runs, six hits and three walks marked CMW's second best start of the year. It's truly hard to believe that this guy was once a dominant pitcher in the Major Leagues. It pains me to say this, but Kei Igawa almost certainly would have done better than Wang has so far given the same opportunities.
Last night might be the last chance Wang gets in the starting rotation for a while, but that question alone is worthy of another entire post. His probable replacement, Phil Hughes, wasn't perfect either, but was a lot better than Wang allowing two runs in 3 2/3 IP. Those two came in the fourth on a two run shot by Youk and put the Sox up 6-2.
The Yankees did manage to claw their way back in the game and make it interesting. Back to back homers by Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira against Ramon Ramirez in the 7th brought the Bombers within one, but Okajima and Papelbon stifled the rally in the 8th and 9th. Teix continued his hot hitting, picking up nearly half the Yankees' hits, and was the only Pinstriper with a plate appearance to not leave a man on base. The Yanks left 20 men on in total (2 for 15 w/RISP). They are .141 in those situations for the season series.
The Yanks are averaging 4.0 runs per game against Boston this year, which wouldn't be bad if the Sox weren't scoring 7.3.
It could be worse. The Yankees could be floundering with a marginal record despite having played like the Rays are. They are still only one game back on the Sox after dropping all seven head to head meetings this year. It's a pretty incredible feat in its own right. A win tomorrow brings it back to square one.
The lesson for tonight is that due don't do shit. The same goes for tomorrow night. Just as a streak of coin flips ending up as tails doesn't alter the probability of the next flip, the victories piling up on the Red Sox' side of the ledger don't change the fact that tomorrow night's game is still about a 50/50 proposition.
/checks pitching match up for tomorrow
Okay, make that 60/40 Yanks.
Seriously... tomorrow will be the night. It has to be, right?