Being tied for first place on May 27 is nothing to get excited about. There once was a time when the Yankees would have laughed at the idea of that being any sort of accomplishment.
But given all this team has been through, it’s a fine way to go into the off day.
“It’s where you want to be,” Joe Girardi said. “You want to be at the top all the time. We went through some times. It was two and a half weeks ago that we were really scuffling and we’ve bounced back very well. It has been a team effort.”
Most of the Yankees had fled for their private jets by the time reporters were allowed in the clubhouse. Only A.J. Burnett, Hideki Matsui and a few of the rookies were around. Burnett, to his credit, wasn’t in a particularly jubilant mood. Through he threw six shutout innings, he needed 118 pitches to get there.
“It’s a start,” he said. “Mechanically, I felt better than I have in a long time.”
Matsui said the adjustments he has made to his stance have paid off. He has more balance and a stronger base. Mark Teixeira (12 home runs and 27 RBI this month) wistfully said he hopes he feels this good all season. “Its unusual when you feel comfortable from both sides of the plate,” he said.
But the most significant story of this game may have been the two perfect innings thrown by Chien-Ming Wang. That’s what Girardi said and most of the players agreed.
“That was a huge building block,” Girardi said.
After a quick warm-up, Wang retired all six hitters he faced. He struck out two, threw 18 of 26 pitches for strikes and showed movement and velocity (91-92) with his sinker. Wang said the outing was good for his confidence and that he feels he can add another tick or two of velocity.
Asked whether he could adjust to the bullpen, Wang grinned. That is the last thing he wants to do. He reiterated that he wants to start and he feels he is ready to do so. But for now, he will he held in reserve.
But the chance will come. These things have a way of working out. It’s up to Girardi and Dave Eiland to find a way to keep Wang sharp so he is ready when that time comes.
Here’s Girardi’s postgame: