Red Sox can’t handle Yanks’ Wang

Praise Jesus!
Talking with Tyler

When I got home tonight, one of my closest friends, who happens to be a Worcester native and Red Sox fan, offered me the typical Red Sox fan excuse to tonight’s game. “I don’t think he pitched well tonight as crazy as that sounds,” he said about Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang. “10 GBs. 14 Flies. I saw a LOT of line drives that were caught, yes, but a lot of ’em.”

It’s true; for someone looking at Chien-Ming Wang in a vacuum, tonight’s outing was not particularly “good” in the traditional 20-ground-ball outs sense of the meaning. That Wang recorded more outs in the air than on the ground is a notable rarity. In fact, outside of last year’s disastrous ALDS, tonight’s game marked the first time since August 18, 2006 that the Wangster recorded more air outs than ground outs.

Interestingly enough, that outing came against the Red Sox during the five-game 2006 Boston Massacre, and it’s not coincidence that Wang pitches differently against the Red Sox. It is, in fact, part of his evolution into the Yankee ace.

Heading into tonight’s game, Wang was just as aware as we were of the Red Sox’s past success against him. He knew that his greatest struggles as a starter in the Big Leagues came against Boston and mostly in Fenway. There’s just something about that park that doesn’t lend itself to his sinkerball. Perhaps it’s the mound; perhaps it’s the Boston hitters’ approach to Wang’s pitching style.

Tonight, though, Wang kept the Sox guessing. He pounded the strike zone, throwing nearly 66 percent of his stingy 93 pitches for strikes. He got the double play when he needed it and the outs all night long. He offered up a better mix of pitches than we’ve seen him throw, and he showed why he is indeed that Yankee ace we all thought the team needed.

Meanwhile, the 6-5 Yanks owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jose Molina, and all that deal took was Jeff Kennard. Who ever knew Kennard would be so useful to the Yanks?

Praise Jesus!
Talking with Tyler
  • iYankees

    I love this post because my girlfriend, who is a devout Red Sox fan, kept saying, aw hell, that was hit hard. He’s lucky and he’s not doing what he should be doing (e.g. getting those grounders). But, I was happy to remind her (and then we got into an argument) that Wang was pitching differently. He knew, as you said, that he had to do that to survive against Toronto, the Rays, the Sox, everyone. I knew people would use Wang’s flyballs as a crutch for his performance, and anomoly that was “luck,” but, to be honest, in any other ballpark, those would be meager outs (the small confines of Fenway accentuated what could have been by the Sox).

    Wang was simply dominant tonight and, sorry to break it to the folks who don’t see Wang in this context but, that’s what an ace does. From the get go you knew he had it working and it was a pleasure to see him pitch tonight.

    • Mike P

      And she’s still your girlfriend? Get A-Rod on the case…

    • kris

      She can always make up for it by giving you a Wang. I love the headline.

  • Chip

    I don’t care how he gest the results, as long as he gets them. Seriously, look at the two guys who just OWN Wang, Ortiz and Manny. They were 0 for 6 with 3K’s against him tonight. That just shows that Wang is adding to his arsenal. I watched him strike out manny the second time with the slider looking and thought, no way he does that last year.

    Just look at the scoreboard, the Wanger allowed just 2 hits and if anybody says he didn’t have a good outing, remind them that he was a Bobby Abreu brain-fart away from a one-hit shutout

    • Mike A.

      It took Wang 5 pitches to coax 3 outs out of Ortiz. Amazing.

  • Mike P

    Add a slick play from Rodriguez, remove a bunt single and he’s got himself a perfect game. He was only a bit of luck away from a perfect game!!! ACE

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Def an ace. Wista is a strange city full of strange people.

  • mustang

    I don’t understand how a guy is two good, not great, plays from a perfect game and anyone can say he didn’t pitch well or was lucky. Wang mastered the inside and outside corners. When he needed it he went back to his bread and butter the low stuff.
    He saved the bullpen for today which they will probably need.
    I can’t say enough about Molina the way he playing right now he could probably start for a few teams. Great signing by Cashman who locked him up for two years at 4 million. A steal if he can play anywhere near this.

  • Jamal G.

    Yankees haters just have no end. I was talking to my friend (devout Yankees hater and Braves fan) and he’s saying that Wang’s performance shows why the Yanks made a mistake not trading for Johan Santana. His reasoning is that with Wang evolving into the Yankees ace that with Santana we would have had two aces. It’s funny because during the winter he was laughing that we didn’t get him saying we have no ace and that’s what we need to win a championship. So Wang disproves his first theory and all of a sudden a new one sprouts right up.

  • DaBXBomber

    Lucky? Didn’t pitch well? How about no walks? How about Big Papi and ManRam going 0 fer? Sounds good to me.

  • GoTerpsGo

    Isn’t Wanger the first to go 3-0 so far? And he’s 41-13 since ’06. I’ll take our “non-ace” any day!

    • Mike A.

      49-18 career. That’s outstanding.

  • pete

    the red sox have kinda sorta had wang’s number so he changed up his game plan against them this time. The best part for me was seeing the pitch count at 52 in the 7th inning.
    Oh yeah and plenty of balls were hit hard off of buccholz in his no-hitter last year, too.

  • mustang

    This might come as a shock coming from me, but somehow I’m starting to get the feeling that this whole thing might work. Maybe I’m high from yesterdays win, but its the little things that are starting to remind me so much of 1996. Like Molina and Gonzalez remind me to a less degree of Jeter and Girardi back in 1996.
    I don’t think I’m quite ready to agree with not getting Santana, but I must admit this team as something going on.
    I don’t know, I will probably hate the whole thing again if Hughes blows up on Sunday. LOL

  • chris

    People from Worcester have Wang envy. We have everything envy.

    It comes from being self conscious that even though Worcester has long been the second biggest city in New England (Providence just recently passed Worcester) – nobody knows about Worcester. Or if they know about Worcester – they don’t know how to pronounce the name of the city or spell it. That’s how we end up with bitter cynics like Dennis Leary and Abbie Hoffman.

    Having said that – Wang pitched a fine game last night. Enjoy it. That’s the best he’ll ever pitch against the Red Sox. He isn’t a true ace.

  • brad k

    I love Wang and I am a diehard Yanks fan…..but Wang is still not the Ace in the trues sense. I don’t think he instills fear in opposing line ups and to me that is what an ace really is all about. It’s about looking at a three game schedule and seeing Wang’s name in there and knowing that your team is going to lose that game. Think Randy Johnson in his prime. Think Bob Gibson in the day. Wang is awesome to have and Santana would have been an unstoppable 1-2 punch for the Yanks. I like Hughes and IPK but there are going to be bad games and lot’s of ups and downs. What you want is stability in the rotation. Look at today’s game. Mussina vs. Beckett. I know the Moose looked good last time out but we are talking about the Ray’s here. I also know Beckett got shelled last time out (his 1st start) but that won’t last. Think about a 3 game series in Fenway with Santana and Wang going back to back. Think AL East title. Instead we have Wang and Mussina in the first 2 games. Think rubber game.

  • Brian

    Even though it makes business sense and all, I still can’t get over how we may be watching Cy Wang this year and yet we duked him out in arbitration. Wang is an absolute stud, to quote Pettitte, and he is also refreshing as a baseball star…all business.

  • CB

    How many pitcher have become true “Ace’s” after their first 2 1/2 seasons in the majors?

    Santana – no
    Beckett – no
    Peavy – no
    Sabbathia – no
    Halladay – no

    Roy Oswalt – probably
    Brandon Webb – borderline within 3 years
    Verlander – not sure if his first two years put him at Ace status – borderline. Needs another year of performance, IMO (look at his strike out rate as a rookie – not great at all).

    There’s just not that many pitchers who have risen to this now mythical status of “Ace” in less than three full seasons.

    But that’s all the experience Wang has. He is not a finished product.

    For some reason people just don’t admit that there’s a significant probability that Wang, or any pitcher, entering his 4th season will continue to get better.

    Well I take that back – many are certain that Wang’s tapped out because of his much discussed strike out rate.

    Strikeout rates are one predictor of future success. But the notion that one variable is the be all and end all of any projection as complex as overall pitching ability is mindless.

    And on top of that, when you are trying to win the World Series in 2008 future projections aren’t that meaningful – what is important is current performance.

    But with Wang people actually apply discount rates to his present performance rather than to his possible future performance. They use his statistical projections of future performance based on a few variables to discount what he is empirically achieving. It’s just bizarre.

    • Mike A.

      You do realize that Wang was like, 2-3 years older than those guys when they made their debuts, right?

      • CB

        Yes – I do realize the difference and age and did factor that in. There is that age flip side to it. But the point still stands. Players generally get better both as they get older and mature physically (which Wang has already done) and also because they gain experience.

        Josh Beckett did not become an ace because he got older and matured physically. He became an ace because he learned how to pitch instead of just throw. Sabbathia did not become an ace after 5 middling season because he had somehow matured physically, etc.

        Pitchers learn how to pitch at the major league level. That generally requires time and experience. There are very few phenoms – no matter how physically talented – how become ace’s right off the bat. There a learning cureve and that learning how to pitch generally has to happen at the major league level.

        So Wang was older. And I wouldn’t expect him to get better because he’s going to fill out and throw harder or gain command I do think there’s a good chance he’ll continue to develop because he’s still learning how to pitch.

        And while he may not show the type of massive improvements pitchers who debut in their early 20’s do he also doesn’t need to because he’s already been very successful. His floor is set very high – if he’s not an ace now he’s also not very far from being one. So it’s an issue of marginal gain.

        Wang also only learned his 2 seamer in 2004. That completely transformed his approach. So he’s only been pitching the way he is now for 4 years. That’s not that long a time.

        The guys at baseball prospectus talk a lot about how hard it is to predict pitching performance. The reason why is that pitchers make non-linear gains. The make qualitative changes in their approach and that can make enormous differences (e.g. they pick up a new pitch, get injured, etc.)

        Wang’s low strike out rates do no preclude him from making that type of qualitative jump in performance if he, for instance, learns how to mis his pitches better, as he did last night with his slider and 4-seamer.

        Wang’s not taking the conventional trajectory of most very good to elite pitchers. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get better. And given how good he already is, even if he improves by a relatively small amount he could become a full fledged “elite” pitcher if isn’t one already.

    • GoYankees

      His win-loss ratio is statistically significant. And that is all that matters in baseball. Just look at some past Yankee greats. K’s get the ooh’s and ah’s and blazing short pitching careers. GB’s and pops without walks get wins for a bashing team like the Yanks and hall of fame pitchers.

      After the last out of the game CMW was standing in front of the mound, King of the Hill. Go Yankees!

  • Matt

    Anyone that says Wang isnt good or nitpicks the fact that he didnt get 20 ground balls is a worthless troll.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    It’s not strange that Providence just passed Worcester as Providence is everything that Worcester is not. Even though Worcester has a lot of colleges, it’s NOT a college town. It doesn’t have all the things you’d expect from a college town like cool and vibrant businesses (with very few notable exceptions).

    Providence’s east side with RISD and Brown have such vibrance and coolness. The transformation around the water front with Providence Place Mall leading the way was great, but Providence was cool even before that.

    No matter how many colleges Worcester ever has, it will seem like a blue collar dump. Even when they transform the train station or do the 146 by pass project, it never seems like it works. The great “Outlets” that were such a good idea were completely ignored by the public. No other place in America is there an “outlet mall” that goes belly up. People typically flock to them. Only in Worcester.

    I have gotten lost so many times in Worcester and never come across a place that seemed like “Hey, wow, I’m glad I took that wrong turn.” For years and years, that has happened in Providence. I have discovered so many little gems by going the wrong way.

    I would love to see Worcester transform itself ala Providence but I think that even BEFORE Providence’s transformation in the late 90s, it was a cooler town than Worcester. It had cool clubs with good music and Federal Hill and great great ethnic restaurants.

    Worcester could learn a lot of lessons from Providence but it doesn’t. It’s like the people there are stuck in some strange place where they refuse to move.

    If I HAD to live in New England, I’d live in Providence. Hands down.

    Anyway, that’s what I think about Wooooooooster.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    oh and wang rocks. :)

  • GoYankees

    There is a lesson to be learned here for Joba. One that will make him the next Yankee ace. Forget those K’s except on two strikes. It’s more important to drop the mph and save the pitching arm with sinkers than to be egged on by us raving fans.

  • Jake

    Wang was great last night. Some of the fly balls were low balls that Sox players just golfed. That is going to happen. He really only got this sinker up in the inning that J.D. Drew hit the hr, other then that it was balls that were hit hard at times but still outs. As long as they are outs does it really matter? He got the win, saved the BP. The Sox take those borderline pitches so sometimes you got to change it up so they don’t know what is coming and that will lead to fly balls. Wang threw his 4 seamer a lot more last night then he normally does. When he needed the double play thou that sinker was good and got Ortiz to ground out to an easy DP.

  • Travis G.

    funny how sawx fans dont mention that Buchholz had as many or more hard-hit outs than Wang.

  • Manimal

    -I’m a yanks fan in shrewsbury MA(next town over from worcester) If I need to explain some sense into your friend I will LOL
    – He still seems like a number 2, Carmona had 19 wins and he was the number 2 starter.
    -Molina was a great signing, by far the best catching duo is Posada/Jose Molina.

  • Mike R.

    How about this little nugget courtesy of Pete Abe:

    “Clay Buchholz told the Boston writers he used to be a Yankees fan because he played shortstop growing up and idolized Derek Jeter.”