Wang a Pleasant Surprise for Yankees
06/18/2005 8:55 PM ET
By Ben Couch / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- After repeatedly trading youth for veteran help during the last few years, the Yankees weren't supposed to have any viable short-term pitching prospects left in their system.
Somebody forgot to send Chien-Ming Wang the memo.
Wang pitched eight sterling innings against the Cubs on Saturday, earning his fourth victory in his last five starts. Wang mixed a strong sinking fastball with a changeup and an occasional splitter to befuddle the Cubs.
"If you don't face a guy, but he throws a lot of balls and you can see a lot of pitches, and he's not throwing quality pitches then you can catch on to him," said Cubs second baseman Todd Walker. "But in his case, he was solid.
"He was making his pitches when he wanted to and putting it where he wanted to. When you can throw 95 mph, and throw inside and good offspeed stuff, you can be very difficult."
Wang scattered five hits, allowed only one run and struck out a career-high five batters. With the win, Wang improved his record to 4-2.
Wang has been making things difficult for opposing lineups ever since he made his Major League debut April 30 against the Blue Jays. In that game, he allowed two runs in seven innings, but didn't factor in the decision.
In eight appearances since, seven of them starts, Wang has proven to be one of the most consistent Yankees starters -- allowing more than three runs only twice.
"This kid has been a bonus," manager Joe Torre said. "We knew he was someone we'd go to if we had a breakdown, but I don't think anybody could have envisioned him pitching as well as he's pitched."
Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre praised Wang's control and aggressiveness on the mound, as well as his businesslike attitude away from it. He said that the rookie goes about his business in such a way that one easily can overlook Wang if they're not trying to find him.
And that's probably the best way for the young pitcher to fit into a veteran staff and clubhouse. He is the only Yankees starter with less than six years of Major League service.
"I think he's very sure of himself now," Stottlemyre said. "His confidence level is at a peak. Even after his last game [June 10 against the Cardinals] where he wasn't real happy with the way he pitched, I think he knows he belongs here now. He certainly has the stuff and he hasn't let anything bother him.
"I think he's got a great future ahead of him."