好在，滾地球投手的好朋友 – 「雙殺」也出現了四次，
OAKLAND — After washing away some of his worries with six innings of one-run ball, Chien-Ming Wang was faced with a true test to see just how much he trusted his sinker, the bread-and-butter pitch that lately had not been nearly as much so.
It was the kind of situation that could undo an entire night’s work, but Wang unloaded and got the escape he’d hoped for, a double play roller that essentially clinched the right-hander’s first victory in six starts. The Yankees did the rest of the work, putting the finishing touches on a 3-1 victory over the A’s at McAfee Coliseum on Tuesday night.
For Wang, who hadn’t posted a victory since May 2 vs. Seattle, the toughest spot of the evening was in that seventh, when the A’s loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk, the Yankees leading 2-1. Kurt Suzuki hit a sharp ground ball to Alex Rodriguez at third, starting an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
“That’s the biggest one he got, to Suzuki,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We needed a double play ball there and he got exactly what he needed. He got four double play balls tonight and that’s the kind of guy he is when he’s on.”
The start was progress for Wang, and after allowing 23 runs over his last four starts, it didn’t come by accident. Wang spent much of the last five days reviewing tape, comparing and contrasting to his 2007 form, and pitching coach Dave Eiland identified a flaw by noticing that Wang’s leg lift was a little slower, thus dragging his arm speed.
“I watched videos of last year and this year,” Wang said. “Last year I was quicker.”
Wang called Tuesday’s start a “big help” for his confidence, and Eiland agreed, saying, “He was frustrated, but today was a huge step in the right direction.”
With A’s left-hander Dana Eveland slow to find his own command, the Yankees took advantage by jumping out for two runs in the first inning. Derek Jeter worked a one-out walk and moved up on a Bobby Abreu single before scoring on Rodriguez’s hit to center field, a play that saw Abreu erased on a strong throw by Oakland center fielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Jason Giambi knocked in New York’s second run with a single to left, scoring Rodriguez, and that would be all the Yankees would manage against the effectively wild Eveland. New York was turned aside through the next five innings by Eveland, who scattered four hits and six walks in a 100-pitch outing, striking out three.
“He’s conveniently wild in a sense,” Girardi said. “He throws strikes but the ball is moving all over the place. He’s got good depth on his slider and he throws his changeup with a fastball that’s cutting at times and sinking at times. He’s got interesting stuff that really keeps you off balance. I thought we’d be able to tack on, but we weren’t able to.”
Trailing 2-0 to Wang, the A’s cut the Yankees lead in the fourth, when Jack Cust singled off first baseman Wilson Betemit’s glove and Mark Ellis ripped a run-scoring double up the gap in left-center field. Wang finished up after getting the first out of the eighth inning, walking two while striking out two.
“He’s got a great sinker, and we never got him to come up in the zone,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “We never really got anything going against him. Instead of us getting the big hit, it was him making the big pitch and getting a double play. It was frustrating, but Wang will do that to you when he’s on like that.”
Jose Veras took over, recording two outs in the eighth inning before Girardi was pressed with a decision — use Kyle Farnsworth, who had been guarding a tender right biceps, or turn to Mariano Rivera for a fourth consecutive evening. To help seal the choice, Girardi used his one telephone call, ringing down to the bullpen and bypassing coach Mike Harkey to speak to Rivera himself. Girardi said it was the first time he’d done so all year, but Rivera said such activity was commonplace during the Joe Torre era.
“It took one second,” Rivera said. “He wanted to see how I was and I told him the truth.”
It helped matters that Melky Cabrera tacked on a run for New York in the ninth with his seventh home run, a shot to right off Oakland’s Keith Foulke. Rivera pitched the bottom half around a hit to record his 17th save, and if it so happens that the phone rings again on Wednesday, he aid he’d be amenable to try for a fifth consecutive game.
“I’ll be ready,” Rivera said. “I’ve been feeling real good. I know that [Girardi] will try not to get me in the game tomorrow, but we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”