Wang named Game 1 starter
Right-hander will take hill in ALDS opener in Cleveland
BALTIMORE -- Chien-Ming Wang doesn't have a wealth of experience to draw on as he prepares for Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Indians, but that doesn't mean he's short on confidence.
"They're a good team," Wang said. "But the Yankees are better."
The Yankees officially announced on Saturday that Wang will start the opener of their first-round playoff set at Cleveland, with Game 1 to be played on Thursday.
The selection marks the second consecutive year that the 26-year-old right-hander has started the opener of a postseason series, having defeated the Tigers in last year's ALDS to log New York's only victory in the four games against Detroit.
"There's something very unusual about this guy in the fact that he's handled stress and pressure very well," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He won last year in Game 1 against Detroit, and now he's a year older.
"The interesting part was nobody was surprised or objected to the fact that he was chosen [in 2006]. I think that's a compliment to him on how he's pretty much looked upon by all these guys."
Wang said that pitching coach Ron Guidry broke news of his selection while the Yankees were taking batting practice on Saturday in Baltimore, where the Yankees are wrapping up their regular season in a three-game series with the Orioles.
"I'm happy," Wang said. "Everybody on this team works hard. Anybody could do it."
A native of Taiwan, Wang posted his second consecutive 19-victory season for New York in 2007, making 30 starts and compiling a 3.70 ERA. A soft-spoken sinkerballer who coaxes batters to spread balls around the infield, Wang allowed 199 hits in 199 2/3 innings, but limited opponents to 82 earned runs and just nine home runs.
He struck out a career-high 104 batters and won six of his last eight starts down the stretch. The Yankees fared 21-9 in games he pitched.
"Even though he doesn't appear he's very emotional, he's got fire in his belly," Torre said.
Wang did not face the Indians this season, a club that the Yankees swept the six-game regular season series from. He owns a 2-1 record and a 3.72 ERA in three career starts against Cleveland, having suffered a defeat in his last start at Jacobs Field on July 3, 2006.
American League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||6:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||3 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||9:30 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||6:30 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||6:30 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||6 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
He has had some troubles this season pitching away from Yankee Stadium, posting a 4.91 ERA, but winning nine of 14 starts.
"That doesn't really scare me," Torre said. "He is what he is. If you can plan around it, fine, but it's not like he's shy on the road."
Torre said the Yankees plan to pitch left-hander Andy Pettitte in Game 2 at Cleveland, and the tentative idea is to have Roger Clemens ready for Game 3 back in New York. Mike Mussina's role has yet to be determined, as he could either pitch in long relief or potentially be used in a Game 4.
That is contingent on Clemens' healthy emergence from a simulated game to be held on Monday in Tampa, Fla., where the 45-year-old right-hander will test a tweaked left hamstring that has sidelined him since a Sept. 16 start at Fenway Park.
"I trust that if he isn't that guy, he'll tell us," Torre said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.