Wang wins 13th as Yankees storm past Royals
Taiwan's Wang Chien-ming throws a pitch for the New York Yankees against the Kansas City Royals in New York on Friday.
Central News Agency
Recognized as the ace of the New York Yankees pitching staff, Taiwan's Wang Chien-ming had looked shaky in his last two starts, saved more by his teammates' offensive prowess than his heavy sinker.
Especially troubling for the pitcher who has made a living getting ground ball outs, Wang actually got more batters out on fly balls (15) than on grounders (14) in those two appearances.
But order was restored to Wang's world on Friday in New York when the Tainan native had a 12-6 ground out to fly out ratio in the Yankees' almost routine 7-1 victory.
The victory was Wang's 10th in his last 11 decisions as he improved his record to 13-5 and took over the lead for wins among Asian pitchers in U.S. baseball from Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has 12.
He has now won 31 games since May 7, 2006, more than any other major league pitcher over that span.
"Today, I had better control, and speed was better," Wang was quoted as saying by the New York Times. "I tried not to think too much and throw to the catcher's target."
Pitching coach Ron Guidry said Wang's willingness to throw hard fastballs inside on left-handed hitters has improved his effectiveness.
"He's been predominantly pitching one way, with sinkerballs away," Guidry said. "That's where it's effective. It's tough for him to throw sinkers in to left-handers, because it always comes back over the plate. We talked about [going] in with four-seamers, your best fastballs, 94, 95, 96 mph."
Wang scattered seven hits over seven innings. Mike Myers and Luis Vizcaino helped him escape the eighth inning without damage after he allowed a lead-off double, and Mariano Rivera finished off the Royals in the ninth in the rain.
Backup catcher Jose Molina, catching Wang for just the second time, was impressed by his new batterymate.
"It's awesome," Molina said. "It's a hard, heavy sinker, and it's hard to pick it up. It's not like 89 [mph]; it's 93 and 94. It's a little bit tough, especially when he's throwing strikes."
The Yankees took the lead in the second inning on Robinson Cano's 11th home run of the year, added two more in the fourth and broke the game open in the sixth when, with the bases loaded and one out, Melky Cabrera slashed a liner that struck reliever Ryan Braun in the foot.
The ball bounced off the Yankees' dugout and into the stands for a two-run, ground rule double that never made it out of the infield. Alex Rodgriguez then hit a sacrifice fly to right that produced some premature shrieks and a 6-1 lead.
With the game virtually decided, the only drama left was whether A-Rod would finally succeed in his quest for his 500th career home run.
In his final at-bat, with thunder crashing and the sky flashing - a scene reminiscent of the movie "The Natural" - A-Rod flied out to right on the first pitch.
In other AL action: Chicago White Sox 7, Detroit 4; Toronto 6, Texas 4; Baltimore 3, Tampa Bay 1; Cleveland 5, Minnesota 2; Seattle 7, Boston 4; Oakland 8, LA Angels 4.