In their first game following Hideki Matsui's injury, the New
York Yankees didn't need much offense, beating the Oakland
Athletics 2-0 Friday night behind eight stifling innings by Wang
and home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Bernie Williams.
"He threw the ball incredible," Rodriguez said. "That's the
best he's thrown all year."
Matsui had surgery Friday to repair his left wrist, broken
Thursday night when he tried for a diving catch against Boston. The
left fielder will be sidelined for at least three months.
"We know we don't have Matsui, but again, it's not going to
take away from our resolve and what we need to do," Yankees
manager Joe Torre said. "We're going to have to pull together and
get this thing accomplished and, hopefully, tonight was step one."
Helped by four double plays, Wang (3-1) put together the best of
his 25 career starts, never allowing a runner past first as he
defeated Barry Zito (2-3). Mixing his fastball with sinkers and
sliders, he gave up three singles, walked two and struck out none,
getting 20 outs on grounders.
"He's one of the toughest pitchers we've faced this year,"
said Mark Ellis, who grounded out three times against Wang. "He's
got so much movement on his fastball. Tonight, he was locating his
fastball real well."
Wang was backed by some dandy defense. Second baseman Robinson
Cano backhanded Adam Melhuse's grounder near second leading off the
eighth, and made a strong, leaping throw from the edge of the
outfield grass for the out. Andy Phillips made several nice stops
Torre said he would have left Wang in for the ninth with a
four-run lead or perhaps even three. With a lesser margin, Mariano
Rivera came in for the third straight night.
Pitching with a cold, he walked Marco Scutaro with one out,
allowed a single to Ellis and fell behind in the count 2-0 to Nick
Swisher, who took a big cut and missed. Swisher then ended the game
by grounding into Oakland's fifth double play, giving Rivera his
seventh save in eight chances.
"I was 150 percent sure he was going to throw a cutter, and he
did. The 2-1 moved a lot more than the 2-0 did," Swisher said.
"Second time I've faced him, great situation to be in, and he made
me ground into a double play. His cutter, it's a heat-seeker, and
it aims for handles, aims at nothing but handles of bats."
Rodriguez, booed in his first two at-bats after striking out,
pulled Zito's changeup over the wall in left-center, near the
399-foot sign, leading off the sixth inning. Before the homer,
Rodriguez was hitting .210 (13-for-62) in his career against Zito --
including a grand slam in New York's season-opening 15-2 win at
"It was down and away. It was right where I wanted it to be,"
Zito said. "It was more bad selection than a bad pitch."
It was A-Rod's second go-ahead homer in three nights.
"I'm taking a very aggressive approach," he said. "My hands
are coming alive."
Williams added his second homer of the season in the eighth, a
drive off former Yankee Randy Keisler, who was called up before the
game and made his Oakland debut.
With Matsui sidelined for three months or more and right fielder
Gary Sheffield out probably until the end of the month with a wrist
injury, Torre said the Yankees will primarily use Bubba Crosby and
Melky Cabrera as their corner outfielders. Against the left-handed
Zito, Cabrera started in left and Williams in right, and Crosby
replaced Cabrera in the eighth inning.
"It's hard to replace Matsui or Sheffield. It's almost
impossible, those guys mean so much to this team," Rodriguez said,
"but we do have enough in the tank on this team. There's an
abundance of talent in this clubhouse for us to go out and pitch
well, and field well and hit well."
Oakland, which has lost three straight and six of nine, dropped
under .500 at 17-18. The A's were without third baseman Eric Chavez
(bacterial infection) and catcher Jason Kendall (serving a
suspension) for the fourth straight game, and designated hitter
Frank Thomas was out, a day after straining his right quadriceps.
Zito has been victimized by poor run support all season: While
he's been in, the A's have not scored more than three runs in any
of his eight starts, and while he has allowed one run in 20 1-3
innings over his last three starts, he has gone just 1-1 in that
He allowed five hits in six innings, struck out four and walked
four, losing his seventh straight decision against the Yankees and
dropping to 2-9 against them in 15 regular-season starts. Oakland
has been shut out in its last three games at Yankee Stadium.
"Unfortunately, just one swing, one pitch, was the
difference," Zito said.
Yankees RHP Carl Pavano allowed one run and one hit in six
innings for Double-A Trenton against Bowie in an Eastern League
game, striking out six and walking none. ... There were seven
double plays overall. ... It was the Yankees' most DPs since they
turned six against Tampa Bay on June 17, 2003.