Right-hander throws two-hitter for first career shutout




NEW YORK -- The last time Chien-Ming Wang pitched a complete game, he threw his glove to the ground in frustration as he left the mound. It wasn't quite the classic nine-inning variety, as Wang surrendered a walk-off homer to Washington's Ryan Zimmerman.
On Friday night, before Wang walked to the mound in the ninth inning, pitching coach Ron Guidry joked with Wang on the bench saying, "I'm going to give you one more chance."

This time Wang finished it, sitting down the Devil Rays in order to cap a 6-0 complete-game victory. It's win No. 12 for Wang and his first career shutout.

The Yankees have won four straight, putting them 20 games over .500 for the first time this season. With a Boston loss, the Yankees are only ½ game out of first place in the American League East.

Friday night's game didn't have nearly the suspense of the June 18 contest in Washington. Yet monotony has become the routine whenever Wang takes the hill. The only people who get excited are the infielders -- and that's including Wang.

Even after recording the last out, Wang still didn't crack a smile until shaking hands with his teammates. He proclaimed he was happy despite his expression, but this kind of performance is something neither he nor his teammates are surprised by anymore.

"It seems like every time out that seems to be the topic of conversation, how much better he was than the previous time out," Derek Jeter said. "I don't know how much better he can get."

Wang said this was his best game as a Yankee. It was nearly perfect.

The 26-year-old sinkerballer allowed only two hits and took a perfect game into the fifth inning before Ty Wigginton singled up the middle. The only other hit Wang surrendered came on a ball that went under Miguel Cairo's glove and could have been ruled an error.

"I'd say he had no-hit stuff tonight," Wigginton said. "I was just fortunate enough to get it into the outfield. He was just lights out from the get-go."

Wang allowed only two runners to get past first base, walked just one, struck out just one and used a total of 104 pitches.

Alex Rodriguez, who got the eventual game-winning RBI with an single in the first, said he couldn't remember seeing a complete game with only one strikeout. But even with a 96 mph fastball, that's not Wang's style. Using a two-seam sinker, Wang recorded 18 of the 27 outs on ground balls.

"He's the type of pitcher that can tell you what's coming and they still have trouble digging it out of the ground," manager Joe Torre said.

With the bottom two spots of the Yankees' rotation somewhat shaky, Wang has made Torre feel quite comfortable with the No. 3 hole. Wang now has a 3.77 ERA and has won four straight decisions, which is also a career first.

"With the amount of experience this kid has had, he has garnered so much trust from us," Torre said. "This kid, you put him right up with Moose and Randy as far as the quality starts you expect from him."

Wang was 1-3 with a 6.94 ERA against the Devil Rays last season. He is now 2-0 with a 1.11 ERA against them this season.

Asked if Wang had changed anything since his rookie season last year, Torre said, "nothing."

"He's been this way since he's been up here," he said. "This is a game where I don't care who we we're playing, the way this kid was pitching tonight it would have been tough for anybody to beat him."

Tampa Bay did make things a bit easier on the Yankees than they needed to be. Devil Rays starter Tim Corcoran walked six batters in 3 1/3 innings. The Yankees came within one hitter of batting around twice during the game but only scored two runs in each of those innings.

The first big inning came in the second, which was highlighted by a bobbled double play ball that gave the Yankees new life. The other was in the fourth, as Jeter hit a double and four of the next five batters walked to give the patient Bronx Bombers a 5-0 lead. Bernie Williams hit his eighth homer of the season, a blast to dead center in the sixth, to cap off the scoring.

It was more than enough support for Wang. All he needed was one. And this time there would be no disappointment.

"He had a complete game in Washington but certainly not one where he wanted to remember," Torre said. "This was a jewel."

By Ryan Mink / MLB.com
2006.06.28

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