"It was great when we didn't see Rivera out there in the ninth," [Washington's second baseman, Jose] Vidro said. "It was like, 'Oh, man, we got a pretty good chance now.'"
Chien-Ming Wang was everything the Yankees hoped he'd be on Sunday afternoon. He gave them length--pitching into the ninth inning--was efficient as well as effective. Beautiful, right? The Yankees led 2-1 and the 'Nats were down to their final two outs. Alex Rodriguez (2-2 with two walks) crushed an RBI double to left in the eighth to put New York ahead. But Mariano Rivera was unavailable. With Ron Villone and Scott Proctor warming in the bullpen, pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson rolled a ground ball through the right side for a base hit. And then Wang made a mistake. Perhaps it was a sign of fatigue, but he hung a sinker--his 107th pitch of the game--to the powerful Ryan Zimmerman who promptly smacked the ball over the left field fence. Nats 3, Yanks 2.
And with that, the Nationals took weekend series in front of the largest baseball crowd RFK has ever seen. Wang walked off the field and threw his glove. It was as emotional as I've ever seen him. As he sat on the bench, Joe Torre and then Ron Guidry both tried to console him. Wang pitched a fine game, and was everything he needed to be, minus one pitch. You can't fault him for that. In my mind the goat of the weekend was Shawn Chacon, who pitched miserably with a seven-run lead on Saturday.
Ah, but there is no use crying over spilt milk. What's done is done. The Yanks head to Philadelphia for three against the Phillies starting tonight. Wang's performance could be a success in the long run. There should be plenty of offense in the coming series and the Bombers may need all the help they can get from their pen, who got a much-needed day of rest on Father's Day.