New York (44-44) at Tampa Bay (35-54)

  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Jul 14, 2007
  • TV: YES, WXPX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Chien-Ming Wang was one of baseball’s best pitchers after the All-Star break a year ago, helping the New York Yankees to a ninth straight AL East title in the process.

He’ll try for similar success when he makes his first start after the break this year on Saturday night as the Yankees continue a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Wang (9-4, 3.36 ERA) was outstanding last season after the All-Star game, going 10-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 starts. His 10 wins matched three other pitchers for the most after the break.

The Yankees (43-44) used Wang’s performance to rally from a three-game deficit after the first half of the season. The hill is much steeper this year, as New York trails first-place Boston by 10 games in the East.

The right-hander is entering the second half with plenty of momentum, as he is 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts since a loss on May 27. He also has a streak of 13 1-3 scoreless innings after yielding five hits over 6 1-3 frames in a 12-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

Wang lost to the Devil Rays on April 24, when he gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss. He had been 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his previous five starts against Tampa Bay.

New York fell to 2-4 against Tampa Bay this season with a 6-4 loss on Friday. Roger Clemens labored through 5 1-3 innings, allowing five runs to fall to 0-3 in three road starts.

“You really have to let go of the final score because of a lot of times you can’t control it. You can only control what you can control, and that’s all based on effort,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “I have no trouble sleeping tonight, other than the final score.”

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .224 at Tropicana Field since the start of the 2006 season.

Bobby Abreu didn’t start Friday because the Devil Rays started left-hander Scott Kazmir, but went 1-for-2 after entering as a pinch-hitter. The New York right fielder is 15-for-28 (.536) in his last eight games to raise his average from .247 to .271.

The Devil Rays (35-54) won for only the second time in 16 games overall, and also ended a five-game home losing streak. Delmon Young had three hits and former Yankee Dioner Navarro drove in two runs for Tampa Bay,

Young is 5-for-8 in this series and 13-for-26 in his last six games.

B.J. Upton returned to the Devil Rays lineup Friday for the first time since June 8 after being out due to a left quadriceps strain. He walked three times and had a sacrifice fly.

“I’ve said from day one, I just want to help this team win ballgames,” Upton told the team’s official Web site “I’m back now and that’s all I want to do.”

Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine (1-3, 5.36) will face the Yankees for the first time. He’s 0-3 with a 5.46 ERA in five outings since recording his first career major league victory on June 10 against Florida.

This will be the right-hander’s third start at home, where he is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Wang Atl vs. A. Sonnanstine ChC
19-7 Record 6-10
3.70 ERA 5.85
104 K 97
59 BB 26
1.29 WHIP 1.35

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jul 14