|Wang hit hard, Yankees stunned in opener against Indians|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 04 October 2007 19:04|
Chien-Ming Wang kept turning around to watch the ball fly by, matching his career high for runs allowed.
Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui failed to come up with big hits.
The Yankees started the 2007 playoffs as dismally as they ended the 2006 postseason. Their 12-3 defeat to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night was their most one-sided postseason loss in six years.
``We got our rear ends kicked,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
New York has lost four straight playoff games dating to last year's first-round wipeout against Detroit. But Yankees fans can take heart in this oddity - in their last seven division series, they've won the four times they lost the opener and lost the three times they started off with a win.
``I wasn't aware of it,'' captain Derek Jeter said. ``I really don't pay much attention to what's happened in previous years.''
Wang was an ace in a hole early, allowing two home runs in a game for only the second time this year. He gave up eight runs in 4 2-3 innings.
``I left balls up and got hit for home runs,'' Wang said, quietly adding, ``I feel bad. I let the team down.''
Pitching on seven days' rest, his sinkerball didn't sink - he got just five groundball outs.
``It was one of those days that everything was up in the zone, and I really couldn't go to another pitch,'' Posada said. ``No slider. No changeup.''
Wang could wind up facing the Indians against in a fifth game - or even Game 4 on three days' rest.
``I'm not afraid of Wang pitching against Cleveland again,'' Torre said. ``He didn't pitch his game tonight. You win 19 games in this league, you certainly earn it. So I'm certainly not going to shy away from him.''
As for the offense, A-Rod wasn't much of a factor, going 0-for-2 with two walks and two infield popups. He is 4-for-43 (.093) with no RBIs in his last 13 postseason games.
Still, the Yankees had chances against C.C. Sabathia only to go 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Cleveland was 5-for-8 and scored seven runs with two outs.
``Let's just get over and lick our wounds tonight and then we'll figure it out,'' Torre said.
Facing the Sabathia for the first time in three years, the Yankees got Johnny Damon's disputed home run leading off the game against the tough left, then put runners on first and second with one out.
Posada struck out, and Matsui grounded out.
With Sabathia struggling, Bobby Abreu hit an RBI double in the fifth that pulled the Yankees to 4-3, and Rodriguez was intentionally walked, loading the bases.
Sabathia, who was at 100 pitches, fell behind Posada 3-0. Posada got a hittable pitch and fouled it off.
``I don't know if he swung at ball four,'' Sabathia said. ``But I was a little surprised that he swung.''
It was only the fourth time he swung at a 3-0 pitch this year. Posada missed the next pitch, fouled off another, then swung and missed for strike three.
He said plate umpire Bruce Froemming was calling the high strike.
``Probably the best pitch I got to hit was that 3-0 one,'' Posada said. ``I fouled it off, and then the pitches were up in the zone. Tough to lay off. They were kind of borderline up, and tried to put it play, and they stayed up.''
Matsui got ahead 2-0, then popped out, dropping to 0-for-12 against Sabathia in his career.
Jeter, Posada and Matsui each went 0-for-4. Yankees batters struck out 11 times against Sabathia and Cleveland's bullpen.
The story was a familiar one for the Yankees. All those wins from April through September mean nothing in October.
From 1996 to 2000, they came up big most of the time. They've lost 11 of their last 14 postseason games.
This team rebounded from a 21-29 start to make the playoffs for the 13th season in a row. For now, the mood remains positive.
``One game's not going to kill us,'' first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said.