Yankees gaining confidence in Wang
Yankees (42-32) at Mets (37-36), 8:05 p.m. ET
NEW YORK -- Chien-Ming Wang still hasn't won a game for the Yankees this season. But he has done enough in his recent losses to prove to manager Joe Girardi that he deserves a little more job security.Girardi said on Saturday that Wang will not only make his scheduled start -- in Sunday's series finale against the Mets -- but he will also pitch next Saturday against the Blue Jays regardless of Sunday's outcome. Though Wang comes into his outing at Citi Field with an 0-6 record and a dismal 11.20 ERA, the Yankees are confident he is ready to take his place in the starting rotation on a more permanent basis.
Wang will face the Mets in the final game of the Subway Series, a contest televised nationally on ESPN at 8:05 p.m. ET."He had to show us better stuff, better command and the ability to pitch deeper into games, and he showed us that," Girardi said of Wang. "So he's not necessarily start-by-start anymore." Since rejoining the rotation on June 4, Wang has gone 0-3 and allowed 14 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings, posting a 7.27 ERA. Nevertheless, he has shown improvement -- even if just marginal -- in his past two outings. Wang put together his longest start of the season on June 17 against the Nationals, working five innings and surrendering three runs. The Yankees lost the game, 3-2, thanks to a sturdy pitching performance by John Lannan. Six days later in Atlanta, Wang again showed signs of life with another five-inning start. His patented sinker had consistently sharp movement, and he hit as high as 95 mph on the radar gun. Throughout this season, the Yankees have been concerned about Wang's velocity, which was hovering around 90 mph in April. Against the Braves, Wang suffered one bad inning, allowing three runs in the third. From there, he was efficient and worked two more scoreless frames before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. The Yankees hoped that Wang would have pitched longer into a game by this point, but Girardi stressed that circumstances -- not performance -- dictated Wang's short start against the Braves. "We had to pull him the last time, when I think he could have given us seven or eight," Girardi said. "If he was winning, 3-0, he would have gone back out." It may not have been the vintage Wang at Turner Field, but it was certainly someone who closely resembled him. At times, Wang looked like the same pitcher who won 19 games in 2006 and '07 and appeared on his way to becoming one of the premier starters in the American League. In his past two starts, Wang has seemingly pitched well enough to win, but the Yankees scored a combined two runs. Before Saturday's game, Girardi stressed the importance of his team scoring early on Sunday to help alleviate any potential nerves. The Yankees have also expressed concern about Wang's confidence, worried that the tough start to the season has rattled him. Girardi said a victory would be "important" for Wang's confidence. Even Wang himself has seemed eager to at last return to the win column. Yet when he takes the mound on Sunday, Wang wants to put his record out of his mind. For one win could be the spark he needs moving forward the rest of the year. "I just want to do my job well," Wang said. "And not think too much." Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20 ERA)
Wang tries again for his first win of the season. The right-hander has shown positive signs in each outing, but the Yankees have won one of his seven starts, and he allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in that one. Wang fell victim to the Yankees' slumbering bats on Tuesday at Atlanta, allowing three runs in five innings before departing for a pinch-hitter. After not working more than 4 2/3 innings in any of his first eight starts this season, Wang has now pitched five innings in two successive starts, and he probably would have thrown more than 62 pitches against the Braves had the Yankees mustered some support. Wang has a 1-1 record and a 4.96 ERA in two career starts against the Mets. Left-handed hitters are batting .429 in 84 at-bats against him. NYM: RHP Livan Hernandez (5-2, 4.05 ERA)
Hernandez was hardly knocked around in his last start, against the Cardinals. He allowed three runs (two earned) and eight hits in seven innings but simply couldn't match Joel Pineiro, who spun a two-hit shutout. Hernandez is 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees. That includes an effort earlier this month, when he received a no-decision after allowing six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Hernandez did surrender home runs to Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter in the Yankees' 9-8 win, but at least two appeared to be products of Yankee Stadium, which has witnessed 119 homers through 35 games. Alex Rodriguez has a .579 average with a 1.316 slugging percentage in 19 career at-bats against Hernandez. Tidbits
The 2,623 hits accumulated by Derek Jeter prior to his 35th birthday on Friday were 65 more than all-time hits leader Pete Rose (2,558) on the morning he turned 35. ... Five pitchers have allowed home runs to both Rodriguez and Reggie Jackson -- Tom Candiotti, Roger Clemens, David Cone, Doug Drabek and Jimmy Key. With his 564th long ball, Rodriguez passed Jackson for 11th place on the all-time homer list on Friday. Tickets
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Tuesday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 4-2, 3.81) vs. Mariners (Brandon Morrow, 0-3, 5.64), 7:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 7-3, 4.38) vs. Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 4-5, 3.22), 7:05 p.m. ET
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.