After a slow start to the season, Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang was nearly perfect in his last outing.
Wang will look to turn in another strong start and help New York continue its recent domination of the Texas Rangers as the teams wrap up a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
Wang (1-2, 3.98 ERA), who won 19 games last season and finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting, started this season on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring and lost his first two starts. However, the right-hander from Taiwan bounced back nicely on Saturday, taking a perfect game into the eighth inning and allowing just two hits in eight innings of an 8-1 win over Seattle.
The Mariners’ Ben Broussard broke up the perfect game with one out in the eighth, homering on the first changeup Wang threw in the game.
“He’s really calm,” catcher Jorge Posada said. “Nothing really fazes him. He’s our No. 1. We need him every five days.”
Wang is the only New York starter to last into the eighth inning this season.
“He’s about as even-tempered a starting pitcher as you can be,” manager Joe Torre told the Yankees’ team Web site. “I was curious just to see what kind of emotion (he’d have) if he did pitch the no-hitter. He may have jogged off the mound.”
Wang’s two previous starts against the Rangers came in May last season. He won both and allowed five earned runs in 14 innings for a 3.21 ERA.
The Yankees (16-16) won 6-2 on Wednesday for their eighth straight win against Texas and fifth this season. Since July 20, 2005, New York is 18-2 against the Rangers (13-20).
The victory moved the Yankees back to .500 for the first time since they were 8-8 on April 21.
“Now we start thinking about five games over,” Torre said.
Jason Giambi did not play because of a spur near his left heel that’s been bothering him for a while and plans to be examined by a foot doctor Thursday.
Brad Wilkerson homered for the Rangers, who have managed only seven runs in their last three games.
Rangers All-Star shortstop Michael Young left in the fifth inning with tightness in his right hamstring and might not start in the finale. He has not missed a game since 2005.
“This infield is really wet. Coming out of the box on a groundball yesterday, I felt a little snag,” he said. “It’s sore, but I’ll be fine. I’ll be ready to pinch-hit.”
Brandon McCarthy (2-4, 7.96) will look to help Texas avoid its first three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium since June 7-9, 1991. He turned in his best outing of the season on Friday, allowing one run in six innings of a 7-1 win over Toronto.
McCarthy, acquired in an offseason trade that sent pitching prospect John Danks to the Chicago White Sox, had given up 17 runs in six total innings in his previous three starts, not lasting more than three innings in any of those outings.
“I knew in the back of my mind this was a big one,” he told the Rangers’ team Web site. “Another bad start would’ve started a trend. It felt good, but I’ve still got a lot of things to work on. I was just (angry about the previous starts), more than anything, because I wasn’t throwing like I know I can.”
McCarthy made two relief appearances against the Yankees last season, allowing two runs in 1 2-3 total innings without receiving a decision.
The Rangers were last swept at Yankee Stadium in a four-game series from Aug. 11-14, 2005.